Contemporary clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus from pediatric osteomyelitis patients display unique characteristics in a mouse model of hematogenous osteomyelitis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Osteomyelitis can result from the direct inoculation of pathogens into bone during injury or surgery, or from spread via the bloodstream, a condition called hematogenous osteomyelitis (HOM). HOM disproportionally affects children, and more than half of cases are caused by Staphylococcus (S.) aureus. Laboratory models of osteomyelitis mostly utilize direct injection of bacteria into the bone or the implantation of foreign material, and therefore do not directly interrogate the pathogenesis of pediatric hematogenous osteomyelitis. In this study, we inoculated mice intravenously and characterized resultant musculoskeletal infections using two strains isolated from adults (USA300-LAC and NRS384) and five new methicillin-resistant S. aureus isolates from pediatric osteomyelitis patients. All strains were capable of creating stable infections over five weeks, although the incidence varied. Micro-computed tomography (microCT) analysis demonstrated decreases in trabecular bone volume fraction but little effect on bone cortices. Histologic assessment revealed differences in the precise focus of musculoskeletal infection, with varying mixtures of bone-centered osteomyelitis and joint-centered septic arthritis. Whole genome sequencing of three new isolates demonstrated distinct strains, two within the USA300 lineage and one USA100 isolate. Interestingly, this USA100 isolate showed a distinct predilection for septic arthritis, compared to the other isolates tested, including NRS384 and LAC, which more frequently led to osteomyelitis or mixed bone and joint infections. Collectively, these data outline the feasibility of using pediatric osteomyelitis clinical isolates to study the pathogenesis of HOM in murine models and lay the groundwork for future studies investigating strain-dependent differences in musculoskeletal infection.

publication date

  • June 2021