Application of a rat osteomyelitis model to compare in vivo and in vitro the antibiotic efficacy against bacteria with high capacity to form biofilms

J Surg Res. 1998 Oct;79(2):146-53. doi: 10.1006/jsre.1998.5416.


A rat experimental osteomyelitis model was used to study the efficiency of antibiotics on biofilm bacteria adhered to implants in relation to the efficiency obtained in vitro. In the osteomyelitis model, 10(4) bacteria of the strain variant used for the in vitro studies (a slime-producing variant of Staphylococcus aureus) were inoculated into the rat tibia at surgery, after implanting a stainless steel canula precolonized for 12 h with this strain. After 5 weeks, a 21-day antibiotic treatment was applied (using cefuroxime, vancomycin, or tobramycin). Subsequently, implant and tibia were studied for presence of bacteria. In this osteomyelitis model, cefuroxime inhibited bone colonization and reduced the number of bacteria in metal and bone at a higher degree (P < 0.05) than vancomycin and trobramycin (the latter antibiotic did not have this reduction effect). The in vitro assay was applied using three concentrations of each antibiotic (8, 100, and 500 microg/ml) and 6-, 24-, and 48-h biofilms. Bacterial viability was evaluated by ATP-bioluminescence after 24 h of antibiotic treatment. In this in vitro assay, cefuroxime significantly (P < 0.05) reduced in all cases the number of viable bacteria in biofilms, tobramycin did not affect viability, and vancomycin affected viability except at the lowest concentration used (8 microg/ml, i.e., 8x the minimal bactericidal concentration of this antibiotic) when facing the oldest (48 h) biofilm. These results demonstrate the usefulness of the osteomyelitis model applied in providing evidence for a close correlation between the in vitro and in vivo findings on the effect of three antibiotics under study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Cefuroxime / pharmacology
  • Cephalosporins / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Tobramycin / pharmacology
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cephalosporins
  • Vancomycin
  • Cefuroxime
  • Tobramycin