A Zebrafish Embryo Model for In Vivo Visualization and Intravital Analysis of Biomaterial-associated Staphylococcus aureus Infection

Xiaolin Zhang, Leonie de Boer, Oliver W. Stockhammer, Dirk W. Grijpma, Herman P. Spaink, Sebastian A.J. Zaat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Biomaterial-associated infection (BAI) is a major cause of the failure of biomaterials/medical devices. Staphylococcus aureus is one of the major pathogens in BAI. Current experimental BAI mammalian animal models such as mouse models are costly and time-consuming, and therefore not suitable for high throughput analysis. Thus, novel animal models as complementary systems for investigating BAI in vivo are desired. In the present study, we aimed to develop a zebrafish embryo model for in vivo visualization and intravital analysis of bacterial infection in the presence of biomaterials based on fluorescence microscopy. In addition, the provoked macrophage response was studied. To this end, we used fluorescent protein-expressing S. aureus and transgenic zebrafish embryos expressing fluorescent proteins in their macrophages and developed a procedure to inject bacteria alone or together with microspheres into the muscle tissue of embryos. To monitor bacterial infection progression in live embryos over time, we devised a simple but reliable method of microscopic scoring of fluorescent bacteria. The results from microscopic scoring showed that all embryos with more than 20 colony-forming units (CFU) of bacteria yielded a positive fluorescent signal of bacteria. To study the potential effects of biomaterials on infection, we determined the CFU numbers of S. aureus with and without 10 µm polystyrene microspheres (PS10) as model biomaterials in the embryos. Moreover, we used the ObjectJ project file "Zebrafish-Immunotest" operating in ImageJ to quantify the fluorescence intensity of S. aureus infection with and without PS10 over time. Results from both methods showed higher numbers of S. aureus in infected embryos with microspheres than in embryos without microspheres, indicating an increased infection susceptibility in the presence of the biomaterial. Thus, the present study shows the potential of the zebrafish embryo model to study BAI with the methods developed here.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58523
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number143
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2019

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