Staphylococcus aureus - a commensal of the human skin, nares and gastrointestinal tract - is also a leading cause of bacterial skin and soft tissue infection (SSTIs), bacteremia, sepsis, peritonitis, pneumonia and endocarditis. Antibiotic-resistant strains, designated MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus), are common and represent a therapeutic challenge. Current research and development efforts seek to address the challenge of MRSA infections through vaccines and immune therapeutics. Mice have been used as experimental models for S. aureus SSTI, bacteremia, sepsis, peritonitis and endocarditis. This work led to the identification of key virulence factors, candidate vaccine antigens or immune-therapeutics that still require human clinical testing to establish efficacy. Past failures of human clinical trials raised skepticism whether the mouse is an appropriate model for S. aureus disease in humans. S. aureus causes chronic-persistent infections that, even with antibiotic or surgical intervention, reoccur in humans and in mice. Determinants of S. aureus evasion from human innate and adaptive immune responses have been identified, however only some of these are relevant in mice. Future research must integrate these insights and refine the experimental mouse models for specific S. aureus diseases to accurately predict the failure or success for candidate vaccines and immune-therapeutics.
Keywords: Animal model; Staphylococcus aureus; mouse.
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