Staphylococcus aureus is one of the dominant organisms isolated from the airways of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, particularly early in life, and is usually regarded as pathogenic. However, there remains significant gaps in our understanding of the role of S. aureus in the progression of pulmonary infection and lung disease in CF. Mouse models of S. aureus lung infection, even in CF animals, frequently demonstrate pneumonia and abscesses of the lung, a phenomenon very rarely observed in people with CF. Furthermore, live host models are associated with high costs and are limited in duration and sample size for ethical reasons. Most in vitro models fail to consider the influence of host tissue interaction or spatial structure on the development and persistence of infection. We have previously described an ex vivo pig lung model (EVPL) of cystic fibrosis for Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection. Here we show the progression of this model to support the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. Our data suggests that, in our model, S. aureus cells may preferentially aggregate in artificial sputum rather than adhere to lung tissue. In the context of historical case reports, this result potentially reflects the clinical situation in cystic fibrosis more accurately than mouse models and could have substantial clinical significance.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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