A zebrafish larval model to assess virulence of porcine streptococcus suis strains

Edoardo Zaccaria, Rui Cao, Jerry M. Wells, Peter Van Baarlen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Streptococcus suis is an encapsulated Gram-positive bacterium, and the leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in young pigs resulting in considerable economic losses in the porcine industry. It is also considered an emerging zoonotic agent. In the environment, both avirulent and virulent strains occur in pigs, and virulent strains appear to cause disease in both humans and pigs. There is a need for a convenient, reliable and standardized animal model to assess S. suis virulence. A zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae infection model has several advantages, including transparency of larvae, low cost, ease of use and exemption from ethical legislation up to 6 days post fertilization, but has not been previously established as a model for S. suis. Microinjection of different porcine strains of S. suis in zebrafish larvae resulted in highly reproducible dose- And strain-dependent larval death, strongly correlating with presence of the S. suis capsule and to the original virulence of the strain in pigs. Additionally we compared the virulence of the two-component system mutant of ciaRH, which is attenuated for virulence in both mice and pigs in vivo. Infection of larvae with the ΔciaRH strain resulted in significantly higher survival rate compared to infection with the S10 wild-type strain. Our data demonstrate that zebrafish larvae are a rapid and reliable model to assess the virulence of clinical porcine S. suis isolates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0151623
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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