Osteomyelitis remains a serious problem in the orthopedic field. There are only a few animal models in which the quantity and distribution of bacteria can be reproducibly traced. Here, we established a real-time quantitative mouse model of osteomyelitis using bioluminescence imaging (BLI) without sacrificing the animals. A bioluminescent strain of Staphylococcus aureus was inoculated into the femurs of mice. The bacterial photon intensity (PI) was then sequentially measured by BLI. Serological and histological analyses of the mice were performed. The mean PI peaked at 3 days, and stable signals were maintained for over 3 months after inoculation. The serum levels of interleukin-6, interleukin-1β, and C-reactive protein were significantly higher in the infected mice than in the control mice on day 7. The serum monocyte chemotactic protein 1 level was also significantly higher in the infected group at 12 h than in the control group. A significantly higher proportion of granulocytes was detected in the peripheral blood of the infected group after day 7. Additionally, both acute and chronic histological manifestations were observed in the infected group. This model is useful for elucidating the pathophysiology of both acute and chronic osteomyelitis and to assess the effects of novel antibiotics or antibacterial implants.
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