Survival of staphylococcus epidermidis in fibroblasts and osteoblasts

Kimberly Perez, Robin Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus epidermidis is a leading cause of infections associated with indwelling medical devices, including prosthetic joint infection. While biofilm formation is assumed to be the main mechanism underlying the chronic infections S. epidermidis causes, we hypothesized that S. epidermidis also evades immune killing, contributing to its pathogenesis. Here, we show that prosthetic joint-associated S. epidermidis isolates can persist intracellularly within human fibroblasts and inside human and mouse osteoblasts. We also show that the intracellularly persisting bacteria reside primarily within acidic phagolysosomes and that over the course of infection, small-colony variants are selected for. Moreover, upon eukaryotic cell death, these bacteria, which can outlive their host, can escape into the extracellular environment, providing them an opportunity to form biofilms on implant surfaces at delayed time points in implant-associated infection. In summary, the acidic phagolysosomes of fibroblasts and osteoblasts serve as reservoirs for chronic or delayed S. epidermidis infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00237-18
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Fibroblast
  • Intracellular infection
  • Osteoblast
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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