Background: Streptococcus pneumoniae, a Gram-positive bacterium carried in the human nasopharynx, is an important human pathogen causing mild diseases such as otitis media and sinusitis as well as severe diseases including pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. There is a strong resemblance between the anatomy, immunology and physiology of the pig and human species. Furthermore, there are striking similarities between S. suis pathogenesis in piglets and S. pneumoniae pathogenesis in humans. Therefore, we investigated the use of piglets as a model for pneumococcal colonization and invasive disease. Results: Intravenous inoculation of piglets with an invasive pneumococcal isolate led to bacteraemia during 5 days, showing clear bacterial replication in the first two days. Bacteraemia was frequently associated with fever and septic arthritis. Moreover, intranasal inoculation of piglets with a nasopharyngeal isolate led to colonization for at least six consecutive days. Conclusions: This demonstrates that central aspects of human pneumococcal infections can be modelled in piglets enabling the use of this model for studies on colonization and transmission but also on development of vaccines and host-directed therapies. Moreover this is the first example of an animal model inducing high levels of pneumococcal septic arthritis.
- Animal model
- Streptococcus pneumoniae