The liver is the major source of acute phase proteins (APPs) and serum concentrations of several APPs are widely used as markers of inflammation and infection. The aim of the present study was to explore if a local extra hepatic osseous acute phase response occurs during osteomyelitis.
The systemic (liver tissue and serum) and local (bone tissue) expression of several APPs during osteomyelitis was investigated with qPCR and ELISA in a porcine model of implant associated osteomyelitis (IAO) at 5, 10 and 15 days after inoculation with S. aureus or saline, respectively. Additionally, samples were also collected from normal heathy pigs and pigs with spontaneous, chronic, haematogenous osteomyelitis. Afterwards, immunohistochemistry towards different upregulated APPs was performed on the porcine osteomyelitis lesions and on bone biopsies from human patients with chronic osteomyelitis.
All infected porcine bone lesions (apart from Day 5 in the IAO model) were made up by necrosis, pus, and various degree of fibrotic encapsulation. A local, highly significant upregulation of Serum Amyloid A (SAA, up to 4000-fold upregulation), Complement component C3 (C3), and Inter-Alpha-Trypsin Inhibitor Heavy Chain 4 (ITIH4) were present in infected pigs compared to sterile controls. For the experimental IAO animals, the upregulation of C3 and ITIH4 increased over time, i.e., the highest expression was seen on day 15 after bacterial inoculation. In the liver, only C-reactive protein (CRP) and ITIH4 (not SAA or C3) were slightly upregulated in infected pigs. Serum concentrations of CRP, SAA and haptoglobin were only upregulated at day 5 in IAO infected animals. Immunohistochemically, comparable numbers of APP positive cells (leucocytes and bone cells) were found in human and porcine bone samples with chronic osteomyelitis
This is to our knowledge the first description of local APP up-regulation during chronic bone infection. Only small changes in the expression of APPs were found in the liver and serum samples. Thus, the presence of an osseous upregulation of APPs appears to be part of a predominantly local response that will be difficult to measure systemically. The importance of a local immune response in bone infections seems logical as the blood supply is severely impaired during osteomyelitis. There is a real need for supportive diagnostic bone infection criteria which should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the local inflammatory response. As seen from the present study, staining for SAA or C3 could potentially improve the diagnostic performance of histopathology.