Infection is a major cause of failure of inserted or implanted biomedical devices (biomaterials). During surgery, bacteria may adhere to the implant, initiating biofilm formation. Bacteria are also observed in and recultured from the tissue surrounding implants, and may even reside inside host cells. Whether these bacteria originate from biofilms is not known. Therefore, we investigated the fate of Staphylococcus epidermidis inoculated on the surface of implants as adherent planktonic cells or as a biofilm in mouse experimental biomaterial-associated infection. In order to discriminate the challenge strain from potential contaminating mouse microflora, we constructed a fully virulent green fluorescent S. epidermidis strain. S. epidermidis injected along subcutaneous titanium implants, pre-seeded on the implants or pre-grown as biofilm, were retrieved from the implants as well as the surrounding tissue in all cases after 4 days, and in histology bacteria were observed in the tissue co-localizing with macrophages. Thus, bacteria adherent to or in a biofilm on the implant are a potential source of infection of the surrounding tissue, and antimicrobial strategies should prevent both biofilm formation and tissue colonization.

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Acta Biomaterialia
Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Riool, M., de Boer, L., Jaspers, V., van der Loos, C., van Wamel, W., Wu, G., … Zaat, S. (2014). Staphylococcus epidermidis originating from titanium implants infects surrounding tissue and immune cells. Acta Biomaterialia. doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2014.08.012