Bacterial Adherence and Glycocalyx Formation in Oesteomyelitis Experimentally Induced With Staphylococcus aureus

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A surgical procedure allowed the placement of a silicone rubber catheter in the marrow cavity of the tibia of a rabbit and also allowed the introduction of a sclerosing agent (sodium morrhuate) and cells of Staphylococcus aureus. Oesteomyelitis developed in 60% of the animals so treated, and the infecting microorganism was recovered from the infected tibias of the animals that developed this disease. All blood cultures taken 24 h after the infection were negative for S. aureus. Radiological findings consisted of osteolytic changes, the occurrence of sequestration and periosteal reactions, and sclerosis in the infected bones. Sections of bones prepared for histological examination confirmed the diagnosis of oesteomyelitis. Transmission and scanning electron microscopy of samples of bone marrow, bone chips, and the catheters taken from the infected tibiae revealed gram-positive cocci embedded in a very extensive matrix of ruthenium red-staining glycocalyx adhering to the bone and the implanted catheter. It is proposed that this extensive glycocalyx served a protective function for the bacteria and was important in bacterial adherence and thus played an important role in bacterial persistence and the development of oesteomyelitis in these rabbits.