Impact of contusion injury on intramuscular emm1 group a streptococcus infection and lymphatic spread

Invasive group A Streptococcus (iGAS) is frequently associated with emm1 isolates, with an attendant mortality of around 20%. Cases occasionally arise in previously healthy individuals with a history of upper respiratory tract infection, soft tissue contusion, and no obvious portal of entry. Using a new murine model of contusion, we determined the impact of contusion on iGAS bacterial burden and phenotype.

Calibrated mild blunt contusion did not provide a focus for initiation or seeding of GAS that was detectable following systemic GAS bacteremia, but instead enhanced GAS migration to the local draining lymph node following GAS inoculation at the same time and site of contusion. Increased migration to lymph node was associated with emergence of mucoid bacteria, although was not specific to mucoid bacteria. In one study, mucoid colonies demonstrated a significant increase in capsular hyaluronan that was not linked to a covRS or rocA mutation, but to a deletion in the promoter of the capsule synthesis locus, hasABC, resulting in a strain with increased fitness for lymph node migration.

In summary, in the mild contusion model used, we could not detect seeding of muscle by GAS. Contusion promoted bacterial transit to the local lymph node. The consequences of contusion-associated bacterial lymphatic migration may vary depending on the pathogen and virulence traits selected.