European cells & materials

Intracellular proliferation of S. aureus in osteoblasts and effects of rifampicin and gentamicin on S. aureus intracellular proliferation and survival.

PMID 25340805


Staphylococcus aureus is the most clinically relevant pathogen regarding implant-associated bone infection and its capability to invade osteoblasts is well known. The aim of this study was to investigate firstly whether S. aureus is not only able to invade but also to proliferate within osteoblasts, secondly to delineate the mechanism of invasion and thirdly to clarify whether rifampicin or gentamicin can inhibit intracellular proliferation and survival of S. aureus. The SAOS-2 osteoblast-like cell line and human primary osteoblasts were infected with S. aureus EDCC5055 and S. aureus Rosenbach 1884. Both S. aureus strains were able to invade efficiently and to proliferate within human osteoblasts. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed intracellular invasion of S. aureus and transmission electron microscopy images could demonstrate bacterial division as a sign of intracellular proliferation as well as cytosolic bacterial persistence. Cytochalasin D, the major actin depolymerisation agent, was able to significantly reduce S. aureus invasion, suggesting that invasion was enabled by promoting actin rearrangement at the cell surface. 7.5 μg/mL of rifampicin was able to inhibit bacterial survival in SAOS-2 cells with almost complete elimination of bacteria after 4 h. Gentamicin could also kill intracellular S. aureus in a dose-dependent manner, an effect that was significantly lower than that observed using rifampicin. In conclusion, S. aureus is not only able to invade but also to proliferate in osteoblasts. Invasion seems to be associated with actin rearrangement at the cell surface. Rifampicin is effective in intracellular eradication of S. aureus whereas gentamicin only poorly eliminates intracellularly replicating bacteria.