Osteomyelitis can result from the direct inoculation of pathogens into bone during injury or surgery or from spread via the bloodstream, a condition called hematogenous osteomyelitis (HOM). HOM disproportionally affects children, and more than half of cases are caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Laboratory models of osteomyelitis mostly utilize direct injection of bacteria into the bone or implantation of foreign material and therefore do not directly interrogate the pathogenesis of pediatric hematogenous osteomyelitis. In this study, we inoculated mice intravenously and characterized the resultant musculoskeletal infections using two strains isolated from adults (USA300-LAC and NRS384) and five new methicillin-resistant S. aureus isolates from pediatric osteomyelitis patients. All strains were capable of creating stable infections over 5 weeks, although the incidence varied. Micro-computed tomography (microCT) analysis demonstrated decreases in the trabecular bone volume fraction but little effect on bone cortices. Histological assessment revealed differences in the precise focus of musculoskeletal infection, with various mixtures of bone-centered osteomyelitis and joint-centered septic arthritis. Whole-genome sequencing of three new isolates demonstrated distinct strains, two within the USA300 lineage and one USA100 isolate. Interestingly, this USA100 isolate showed a distinct predilection for septic arthritis compared to the other isolates tested, including NRS384 and LAC, which more frequently led to osteomyelitis or mixed bone and joint infections. Collectively, these data outline the feasibility of using pediatric osteomyelitis clinical isolates to study the pathogenesis of HOM in murine models and lay the groundwork for future studies investigating strain-dependent differences in musculoskeletal infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00180-21
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Clinical isolates
  • Hematogenous osteomyelitis
  • Pediatric infectious disease
  • Staphylococcus aureus


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