In vivo biofilm models play major role to study biofilm development, morphology, and regulatory molecules involve in biofilm. Due to ethical restrictions, the use mammalian models are replaced with other alternative models in basic research. Recently, we have developed insect infection model G. mellonella larvae to study implant associated biofilm infections. This model organism is easy to handle, cheap and ethical restriction free and could be used for the high through put screening of antimicrobial compounds to treat biofilm. To promote the use of this model in basic research we aimed to validate this based on the typical biofilm features such as less susceptible to the antibiotics, complexity of the biofilm structure and gene expression profile of biofilms.
G. mellonella larvae are maintained at 30oC on artificial diet in an incubator. Titanium and Stainless steel K-wires were cut into small pieces with size of 4mm. After sterilization with 100% alcohol, these K-wires were pre-incubated in S. aureus bacterial suspension (5×106 CFU/ml) for 30 min, washed in PBS and implanted inside the larva after with help of scalpel. The larvae were incubated at 37oC for two day for the survival analysis. To analyze the less susceptibility of the biofilms towards antibiotics, the larvae were treated with gentamicin and compared survival with planktonic infection in G. mellonella. To reveal the complex structure of biofilm, the implants were removed and processed for the MALDI analysis. Whole genome-based transcriptome of biofilm was performed to explore the changes in transcriptional landscapes.
The results are very promising to validate the use of G. mellonella as in vivo model to study the biofilm formation on implanted materials. The gentamicin treatment could rescue the larvae from the planktonic infection, but not from the biofilm infection on the implants. Further, the MALDI analysis could reveal the complex structure and components of S. aureus biofilm formed on the implant inside the larvae. Finally, the transcriptomic analysis revealed the gene expression changes that can be compared to normal biofilm expression profile.
Further, comparison of these results with other in vivo models such as rat and mouse as well as acute and chronic clinical samples from patients with implant-associated bone infections could validate and relevant use of this model to study S. aureus biofilm infections.