The microbiome of diabetic foot osteomyelitis

S A V van Asten, J La Fontaine, E J G Peters, K Bhavan, P J Kim, L A Lavery

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The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the diversity of bacteria in diabetic foot osteomyelitis using a 16S rRNA sequencing approach and to compare the results with conventional culture techniques. In this prospective observational study, we obtained 34 bone samples from patients admitted to our hospital with a moderate-severe diabetic foot infection. We analysed the distribution of the 16S rRNA gene sequences in the bone samples, using an Illumina MiSeq Personal Sequencer. We compared the genera that were detected with the cultured pathogens in the bone samples with conventional techniques. In the 23 samples that had positive results with both techniques, Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, Streptococcus and Propionibacterium spp. were detected in 20, 18, 13 and 11 samples, respectively. Significantly more anaerobes were detected with 16S rRNA sequencing compared to conventional techniques (86.9 % vs. 23.1 %, p = 0.001) and more Gram-positive bacilli were present (78.3 % vs. 3.8 %, p < 0.001). Staphylococcus spp. were identified in all of the sequenced bone samples that were negative with conventional techniques. Mixed genera were present in 83.3 % (5 of 6) of the negative samples. Anaerobic and fastidious organisms may play a more significant role in osteomyelitis than previously reported. Further studies with larger populations are needed in order to fully understand the clinical importance of the microbial diversity of diabetic foot osteomyelitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-8
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Bone and Bones
  • Corynebacterium
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Diabetic Foot
  • Humans
  • Journal Article
  • Microbiota
  • Observational Study
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Propionibacterium
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus

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