Image_1_Deciphering the Pathological Role of Staphylococcal α-Toxin and Panton–Valentine Leukocidin Using a Novel Ex Vivo Human Skin Model.PDF

Staphylococcus aureus alpha-toxin and Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL) have been reported to play critical roles in different animal models of skin infection. These models, however, do not completely recapitulate the human disease due to the host specificity of these toxins as well as the intrinsic anatomical and immunological differences between animals and humans. Human skin explants represent a valid alternative to animal models for studying skin infections. Herein, we developed a human skin explant wound model to study the pathogenic role of alpha-toxin and PVL; inflammatory responses elicited by these toxins; and the neutralizing ability of antibodies to mitigate skin damage. Different concentrations of alpha-toxin and/PVL were applied to superficial wounds on human skin explants. Treatment with alpha-toxin resulted in high tissue toxicity and loss of skin epithelial integrity. PVL induced a milder but significant toxicity with no loss of skin structural integrity. The combination of both toxins resulted in increased tissue toxicity as compared with the individual toxins alone. Treatment of the skin with these toxins also resulted in a decrease of CD45-positive cells in the epidermis. In addition, both toxins induced the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Finally, antibodies raised against alpha-toxin were able to mitigate tissue toxicity in a concentration-dependent manner. Results from this study confirm the key role of α-toxin in staphylococcal infection of the human skin and suggest a possible cooperation of the two toxins in tissue pathology.