Animal models predictive of human disease are generally difficult to establish and reproduce. In the case of the Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacterium, which is predominantly a human pathogen, virulence assessment in animal models is problematic. We compared a monkey colonization and pharyngitis model of infection in two macaque species to determine the optimal model for vaccine candidate evaluation. Rhesus and cynomolgus macaques were intranasally infected with a streptomycin resistant (Str(r)) GAS strain. Monkeys were monitored for body weight and temperature changes, throat swabs and sera were collected, and clinical observations were noted throughout the study. Both species exhibited oropharyngeal colonization by GAS, with rhesus macaques demonstrating a more sustained colonization through day 28 post-challenge. Veterinary observations revealed no significant differences between GAS-infected rhesus and cynomolgus macaques. Mock-infected monkeys did not exhibit clinical symptoms or GAS colonization throughout the study. ELISA results demonstrated that both rhesus and cynomolgus macaques developed anti-streptolysin-O antibody titers, with cynomolgus generating higher titers. Sera from infected monkeys produced opsonophagocytic killing and bound to the bacterium in an immunofluorescence assay. Both rhesus and cynomolgus macaques can be used for colonization studies with this GAS M3 strain, yet only mild clinical signs of pharyngitis and tonsillitis were observed.
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