Adaptation of Staphylococcus aureus in a Medium Mimicking a Diabetic Foot Environment

Toxins (Basel). 2021 Mar 22;13(3):230. doi: 10.3390/toxins13030230.


Staphylococcus aureus is the most prevalent pathogen isolated from diabetic foot infections (DFIs). The purpose of this study was to evaluate its behavior in an in vitro model mimicking the conditions encountered in DFI. Four clinical S. aureus strains were cultivated for 16 weeks in a specific environment based on the wound-like medium biofilm model. The adaptation of isolates was evaluated as follows: by Caenorhabditis elegans model (to evaluate virulence); by quantitative Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (qRT-PCR) (to evaluate expression of the main virulence genes); and by Biofilm Ring test® (to assess the biofilm formation). After 16 weeks, the four S. aureus had adapted their metabolism, with the development of small colony variants and the loss of β-hemolysin expression. The in vivo nematode model suggested a decrease of virulence, confirmed by qRT-PCRs, showing a significant decrease of expression of the main staphylococcal virulence genes tested, notably the toxin-encoding genes. An increased expression of genes involved in adhesion and biofilm was noted. Our data based on an in vitro model confirm the impact of environment on the adaptation switch of S. aureus to prolonged stress environmental conditions. These results contribute to explore and characterize the virulence of S. aureus in chronic wounds.

Keywords: EDIN; Panton–Valentin leukocidin; Staphylococcus aureus; adaptation; biofilm; diabetic foot infection; in vitro model; nematode; virulence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Diabetic Foot / immunology
  • Diabetic Foot / microbiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Staphylococcal Infections / immunology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Virulence
  • Wound Infection / immunology
  • Wound Infection / microbiology*