Current Concepts of Osteomyelitis: From Pathologic Mechanisms to Advanced Research Methods

Am J Pathol. 2020 Jun;190(6):1151-1163. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2020.02.007. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


Osteomyelitis is an inflammation of the bone and bone marrow that is most commonly caused by a Staphylococcus aureus infection. Much of our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of osteomyelitis, from the perspective of both host and pathogen, has been revised in recent years, with notable discoveries including the role played by osteocytes in the recruitment of immune cells, the invasion and persistence of S. aureus in submicron channels of cortical bone, and the diagnostic role of polymorphonuclear cells in implant-associated osteomyelitis. Advanced in vitro cell culture models, such as ex vivo culture models or organoids, have also been developed over the past decade, and have become widespread in many fields, including infectious diseases. These models better mimic the in vivo environment, allow the use of human cells, and can reduce our reliance on animals in osteomyelitis research. In this review, we provide an overview of the main pathologic concepts in osteomyelitis, with a focus on the new discoveries in recent years. Furthermore, we outline the value of modern in vitro cell culture techniques, with a focus on their current application to infectious diseases and osteomyelitis in particular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Osteocytes / pathology
  • Osteomyelitis / immunology*
  • Osteomyelitis / pathology*
  • Research Design
  • Staphylococcal Infections / immunology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / pathology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus