Evaluation of phage therapy in the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus-induced mastitis in mice

Folia Microbiol (Praha). 2020 Apr;65(2):339-351. doi: 10.1007/s12223-019-00729-9. Epub 2019 Jun 30.


Mastitis in dairy cows is generally considered to be the most expensive disease for dairy farmers worldwide. The overuse of antibiotics is a major problem in the treatment of bovine mastitis, and bacteriophage therapy is expected to provide an alternative treatment. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a phage cocktail against mastitis in a mouse model. First, a Staphylococcus aureus strain was isolated from milk samples taken from mastitis cows from dairy farms in Xinjiang, China, and it was designated as Sau-XJ-21. Next, two phages (designated as vBSM-A1 and vBSP-A2) with strong lytic activity against Sau-XJ-21 were isolated from mixed sewage samples collected from three cattle farms in Xinjiang. Phages vBSM-A1 and vBSP-A2 were identified as members of the Myoviridae and Podoviridae families, respectively. The two phages exhibited a wide range of hosts, especially phage vBSM-A1. To evaluate the effectiveness of the two phages in the treatment against mastitis, female lactating mice were used 10-14 days after giving births. The mice were divided into six groups; one group was kept as healthy control, while the remaining five groups were inoculated with the isolated S. aureus strain to induce mastitis. Four hours after bacterial inoculation, mice in these groups were injected with 25 μL phosphate buffer saline (negative control), ceftiofur sodium (positive control), or phage, either individually or as a cocktail. The mice were sacrificed 20 h later, and the mammary glands were removed and subjected to further analysis, including the quantitation of colony-forming units (CFU), plaque-forming units (PFU), and gross macroscopic as well as histopathology observation. Mice with induced mastitis exhibited significantly improved mastitic pathology and decreased bacterial counts after they had been given phage treatments, with the phage cocktail being more superior than either phage alone. Furthermore, the cocktail treatment also maintained the highest intramammary phage titer without spreading systemically. The effectiveness of the phage cocktail was comparable to that produced by ceftiofur sodium. According to the data obtained for the mouse model of mastitis, phage therapy could be considered as an innovative alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of bovine mastitis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteriophages / physiology*
  • Cattle
  • China
  • Female
  • Mastitis, Bovine / microbiology
  • Mastitis, Bovine / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Milk / microbiology
  • Myoviridae / physiology
  • Phage Therapy / methods*
  • Phage Therapy / veterinary
  • Podoviridae / physiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / veterinary*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / virology*