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Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia remains very difficult to treat, and a large proportion of cases result in potentially lethal metastatic infection. Unpredictable and persistent bacteraemia in the face of highly active, usually bactericidal antibiotics is the strongest predictor of death or disseminated disease. Although S. aureus has conventionally been considered an extracellular pathogen, much evidence demonstrates that it can survive intracellularly. In this Opinion article, we propose that phagocytes, and specifically neutrophils, represent a privileged site for S. aureus in the bloodstream, offering protection from most antibiotics and providing a mechanism by which the bacterium can travel to and infect distant sites. Furthermore, we suggest how this can be experimentally confirmed and how it may prompt a change in the current paradigm of S. aureus bacteraemia and identify better treatment options for improved clinical outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Rev Microbiol

Publication Date





215 - 222


Anti-Bacterial Agents, Bacteremia, Bacterial Proteins, Humans, Leukocytes, Phagocytes, Staphylococcal Infections, Staphylococcus aureus, Virulence, Virulence Factors