A simple infection model using pre-colonized implants to reproduce rat chronic Staphylococcus aureus osteomyelitis and study antibiotic treatment

J Orthop Res. 2001 Sep;19(5):820-6. doi: 10.1016/S0736-0266(00)00076-0.


Staphylococcus aureus biofilms formed on medical implants represent a serious problem, being difficult to eradicate with antibiotic therapy and leading to chronic infections. Simplified in vivo and in vitro antibiotic susceptibility assays using biofilm bacteria are needed. In this work, a novel chronic osteomyelitis infection model was developed in rats in the absence of bacterial suspension, requiring the use of only 10(6) bacteria in biofilms at the site of surgery, with a full success in reproducing infection. Stainless-steel implants pre-colonized for 12 h with a highly adherent S. aureaus isolate were introduced into the rat tibiae. In animals not submitted to antibiotic treatment, infection was found in the implants and spread to bone in all cases, indicating the high efficacy of the model to reproduce osteomyelitis. The effect of a 21-day treatment with cefuroxime, vancomycin, tobramycin or ciprofloxacin on infection was studied in this model 42 days after surgery. Bone colonization was inhibited by vancomycin and cefuroxime. Cefuroxime (the most efficient antibiotic, able to sterilize 1 out of 8 implants) reduced the number of bacteria in biofilms adhered to implants at a higher extent than vancomycin, trobramycin and ciprofloxacin. Analogous observations were made in this work in vivo and in vitro on the relative antibiotic efficacy against S. aureus biofilm bacteria. suggesting the usefulness of both tests as a potential tool to study antibiotic suceptibility, and the need for new antimicrobials against these bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Biofilms
  • Cefuroxime / pharmacology*
  • Cephalosporins / pharmacology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Ciprofloxacin / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis / drug therapy*
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcus aureus*
  • Tibia / microbiology
  • Tobramycin / pharmacology
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Cephalosporins
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Vancomycin
  • Cefuroxime
  • Tobramycin