Metaphylactic Antibiotic Treatment to Prevent the Transmission of Corynebacterium bovis to Immunocompromised Mouse Offspring

J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2020 Nov 1;59(6):712-718. doi: 10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-20-000005. Epub 2020 Sep 9.


Current methods for eradicating Corynebacterium bovis, such as depopulation, embryo transfer, and cesarean rederivation followed by cross fostering, are expensive, complex, and time-consuming. We investigated a novel method to produce immunocompromised offspring free of C. bovis from infected NOD. Cg-PrkdcscidIl2rgtm1Wgl/SzJ (NSG) breeding pairs. Adult NSG mice were infected with C. bovis, paired, and randomly assigned to either a no-antibiotic control group (NAB, n = 8) or a group that received amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (0.375 mg/mL) in their drinking water for a mean duration of 7 wk (AB group, n = 7), spanning the time from pairing of breeders to weaning of litters. The AB group also underwent weekly cage changes for 3 wk after pairing to decrease intracage C. bovis contamination, whereas the NAB mice received bi-weekly cage changes. Antibiotics were withdrawn at the time of weaning. All litters (n = 7) in the AB group were culture- and qPCR-negative for C. bovis and remained negative for the duration of the study, whereas all litters in the NAB group (n = 6) remained C. bovis positive. A single adult from each breeding pair was sampled at weaning and at 5 and 10 wk after weaning to confirm the maintenance of (NAB) or to diagnose the reemergence (AB) of C. bovis infection. By the end of the study, C. bovis infection had returned in 3 of the 7 (43%) tested AB adults. Our data suggest that metaphylactic antibiotic use can decrease viable C. bovis organisms from adult breeder mice and protect offspring from infection. However, using antibiotics with frequent cage changing negatively affected breeding performance. Nevertheless, this technique can be used to produce C. bovis-free NSG offspring from infected adults and may be an option for salvaging infected immunocompromised strains of mice that are not easily replaced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Corynebacterium / physiology*
  • Corynebacterium Infections / prevention & control
  • Corynebacterium Infections / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Male
  • Mice*
  • Mice, Inbred NOD*
  • Pregnancy
  • Random Allocation
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rodent Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination

Supplementary concepts

  • Corynebacterium bovis