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In Vivo Tracking of Streptococcal Infections of Subcutaneous Origin in a Murine Model



Generation of plasmin in vivo by Streptococcus pyogenes is thought to localize the active protease complexes to the pathogen surface to aid in tissue dissemination. Here, we chose to follow cutaneous streptococcal infections by the use of non-invasive bioluminescence imaging to determine if this pathogen can be followed by this approach and the extent of bacterial spread in the absence of canonical plasminogen activation by streptokinase.


Mice were injected subcutaneously with either bioluminescent strains of streptococci, namely Xen20 and Xen10 or S. pyogenes ALAB49. Bioluminescence imaging was performed daily and results were correlated with microbiological and histological analyses.


Comparative analysis of chronologic non-invasive datasets indicated that Xen20 did not disseminate from the initial infection site. Contrary to this, microbiological and histological analyses of Xen20 mice for total bacterial burden indicated sepsis and widespread pathogen involvement.


The use of bioluminescence in microbe-based studies requires genomic and pathologic characterization to correlate imaging results with underlying pathology.

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This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health through grants provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, R01 HL056181 and R01 HL071544 (to P. E. B.), R00 HL094533 (to P. P.), and R01 HL114477 (to P. P. and M. N.), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant 2R44AI085840-02 (to P. P.).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Author information

Correspondence to Peter Panizzi.

Additional information

Richard W. Davis IV and Heather Eggleston contributed equally to this work.

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Davis, R.W., Eggleston, H., Johnson, F. et al. In Vivo Tracking of Streptococcal Infections of Subcutaneous Origin in a Murine Model. Mol Imaging Biol 17, 793–801 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11307-015-0856-2

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Key words

  • Bioluminescence
  • Non-invasive imaging
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Plasminogen
  • Streptokinase