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J Orthop Res. 1997 May;15(3):414-21.

Characterization of a rabbit model of staphylococcal osteomyelitis.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72205, USA.


We previously described a rabbit osteomyelitis model that involved the direct introduction of Staphylococcus aureus into devascularized bone. To further evaluate the model, we performed experiments aimed at correlating the microbiological, radiographic, and histologic parameters involved in the development of experimental osteomyelitis. Using the strain UAMS-1, we achieved an infection rate of 75% with an inoculum as small as 2 x 10(3) colony-forming units. However, development of significant radiographic and histologic signs of disease required an inoculum of at least 2 x 10(4) colony-forming units. Radiographic signs were minimal 1 week after infection and progressed steadily to a maximum 3 weeks after infection. In contrast, histologic signs of disease were observed within 1 week and remained essentially unchanged throughout the 4-week evaluation period. Unlike the results obtained with UAMS-1, rabbits infected with the heavily encapsulated Staphylococcus aureus strain Smith diffuse exhibited little evidence of disease even when infected with 2 x 10(6) colony-forming units. The reduced virulence of strain Smith diffuse was surprising given its greatly enhanced virulence (relative to UAMS-1) in a murine peritonitis model of staphylococcal disease. These results suggest that UAMS-1 expresses virulence factors that are important in the pathogenesis of osteomyelitis and that some or all of these virulence factors are either absent or are not expressed in strain Smith diffuse. Most importantly, the results suggest that our model may be appropriate for the identification and characterization of these virulence factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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