Ex vivo biofilm-forming ability of dermatophytes using dog and cat hair: an ethically viable approach for an infection model

The aim of this study was to establish an ex vivo model for dermatophyte biofilm growth, using hair from dogs and cats. Strains of Microsporum canis, M. gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and T. tonsurans were assessed for in vitro and ex vivo biofilm production. All T. mentagrophytes and T. tonsurans isolates and 8/12 M. canis and 1/7 M. gypseum isolates formed biofilms in vitro, while all tested isolates presented biofilm growth on ex vivo models. T. mentagrophytes and M. canis formed more homogeneous and better-structured biofilms with greater biomass production on cat hair but T. tonsurans formed more biofilm on dog hair. Confocal and scanning electron microscopy demonstrated fungal hyphae colonizing and perforating the hair shaft, abundant fungal conidia, biofilm extracellular matrix and biofilm water channels. The present study demonstrated an ex vivo model for the performance of studies on biofilm formation by dermatophytes, using dog and cat hair.