A murine Staphylococcus aureus fracture-related infection model characterised by fracture non-union, staphylococcal abscess communities and myeloid-derived suppressor cells

Eur Cell Mater. 2021 Jun 21:41:774-792. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v041a49.


A fracture-related infection (FRI) is a serious complication that can occur after surgical fixation of bone fractures. Affected patients may encounter delayed healing and functional limitations. Although it is well established that Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is the main causative pathogen of an FRI, the pathophysiology of an S. aureus-induced FRI is not well characterised over time. Therefore, an experimental study in mice comparing S. aureus-inoculated and non-inoculated groups was performed that particularly focused on staphylococcal abscess communities (SACs) and host cellular response. C57Bl/6N female mice received a double osteotomy of the femur, which was stabilised using a titanium 6-hole MouseFix locking plate and four screws. Animals were either S. aureus-inoculated or non-inoculated and euthanised between 1 and 28 d post-surgery. Histopathological evaluation showed normal bone healing for non-inoculated mice, whereas inoculated mice had no fracture consolidation and severe osteolysis. Within the bone marrow of inoculated mice, SACs were observed from 7 d, which increased in size and number over time. A fibrin pseudocapsule enclosed the SACs, which were surrounded by many Ly6G+ neutrophils with some Ly6C+ monocytes and F4/80+ macrophages, the majority of which were viable. The abscesses were encapsulated by fibrin(ogen), collagen and myofibroblasts, with regulatory T cells and M2 macrophages at the periphery. Only bone marrow monocytes and neutrophils of inoculated mice displayed functional suppression of T cells, indicative of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. The present study revealed that an FRI in mice is persistent over time and associated with osteolysis, SAC formation and an immunosuppressive environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fractures, Bone / microbiology*
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / microbiology
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / microbiology*
  • Neutrophils / microbiology
  • Osteolysis / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / etiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / microbiology