Objective: In spite of the progress in antimicrobial and surgical therapy, infective endocarditis (IE) is still associated with a high morbidity and mortality. IE is characterized by bacterial biofilms of the endocardium, especially of the aortic and mitral valve leading to their destruction. About one quarter of patients with formal surgery indication cannot undergo surgery. This group of patients needs further options of therapy, but due to a lack of models for IE prospects of research are low. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to establish an in vitro model of infective endocarditis to allow growth of bacterial biofilms on porcine aortic valves, serving as baseline for further research.
Methods and results: A pulsatile two-chamber circulation model was constructed that kept native porcine aortic valves under sterile, physiologic hemodynamic and temperature conditions. To create biofilms on porcine aortic valves the system was inoculated with Staphylococcus epidermidis PIA 8400. Aortic roots were incubated in the model for increasing periods of time (24 h and 40 h) and bacterial titration (1.5 × 104 CFU/mL and 1.5 × 105 CFU/mL) with 5 L cardiac output per minute. After incubation, tissue sections were analysed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for direct visualization of the biofilms. Pilot tests for biofilm growth showed monospecies colonization consisting of cocci with time- and inocula-dependent increase after 24 h and 40 h (n = 4). In n = 3 experiments for 24 h, with the same inocula, FISH visualized biofilms with ribosome-containing, and thus metabolic active cocci, tissue infiltration and similar colonization pattern as observed by the FISH in human IE heart valves infected by S. epidermidis.
Conclusion: These results demonstrate the establishment of a novel in vitro model for bacterial biofilm growth on porcine aortic roots mimicking IE. The model will allow to identify predilection sites of valves for bacterial adhesion and biofilm growth and it may serve as baseline for further research on IE therapy and prevention, e.g. the development of antimicrobial transcatheter approaches to IE.