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The aim of this study was to evaluate the practicability of the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) with special regard to the 'natural air sac' technique (NAST) of preparation for in-vivo research on the invasive potential of bacterial strains of various enterobacterial species. It was sought to establish an experimental system more closely resembling in-vivo conditions than cell lines on one hand, and cheaper and easier to handle than established animal models on the other. Fertilized eggs of the domestic fowl were incubated. The CAM was prepared atraumatically at the natural air space of the egg, and a cannula was inserted for subsequent extraction of allantoic fluid (AF) below the CAM. The CAM was then inoculated with either one out of five strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae, an Escherichia coli K-12 strain or a Salmonella typhimurium strain, either alone or in combinations, respectively. AF samples were extracted at certain time points, and the presence of bacteria was determined by cultivation. Penetration and mortality ratios of the infected embryos were calculated. In addition, the mode of crossing the epithelial barrier was examined by electron microscopy. Differing rates of invasion through the CAM and rates of mortality of the chicken embryos demonstrated a clear dependency on the inoculated bacterial strain. Low invading bacteria could be distinguished from intermediate strains, and from strains exerting a strong capability of invasion and killing of the embryos. Simultaneous monotopical inoculation of Klebsiella and E. coli showed a permissive effect of co-incubated Klebsiella on the invasiveness of E. coli. The chick embryo CAM prepared by NAST has shown to be a useful model for in vivo studies on invasion capabilities, pathogenicity and interactions of inoculated bacteria.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Med Microbiol

Publication Date





267 - 275


Allantois, Animals, Chick Embryo, Chorion, Escherichia coli, Escherichia coli Infections, Klebsiella Infections, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Salmonella Infections, Salmonella typhimurium