Efficiency of bacteriophage therapy against Cronobacter sakazakii in Galleria mellonella (greater wax moth) larvae
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Cronobacter sakazakii, an opportunistic pathogen found in milk-based powdered infant formulae, has been linked to meningitis in infants, with high fatality rates. A set of phages from various environments were purified and tested in vitro against strains of C. sakazakii. Based on host range and lytic activity, the T4-like phage vB_CsaM_GAP161, which belongs to the family Myoviridae, was selected for evaluation of its efficacy against C. sakazakii. Galleria mellonella larvae were used as a whole-animal model for pre-clinical testing of phage efficiency. Twenty-one Cronobacter strains were evaluated for lethality in G. mellonella larvae. Different strains of C. sakazakii caused 0 to 98 % mortality. C. sakazakii 3253, with an LD50 dose of ~2.0 × 105 CFU/larva (24 h, 37 °C) was selected for this study. Larvae infected with a dose of 5 × LD50 were treated with phage GAP161 (MOI = 8) at various time intervals. The mortality rates were as high as 100 % in the groups injected with bacteria only, compared to 16.6 % in the group infected with bacteria and treated with phage. Phage GAP161 showed the best protective activity against C. sakazakii when the larvae were treated prior to or immediately after infection. The results obtained with heat-inactivated phage proved that the survival of the larvae is not due to host immune stimulation. These results suggest that phage GAP161 is potentially a useful control agent against C. sakazakii. In addition, G. mellonella may be a useful whole-animal model for pre-screening phages for efficacy and safety prior to clinical evaluation in mammalian models.