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Development of a Combat-Relevant Murine Model of Wound Mucormycosis: A Platform for the Pre-Clinical Investigation of Novel Therapeutics for Wound-Invasive Fungal Diseases.

Wound-invasive fungal diseases (WIFDs), especially mucormycosis, have emerged as life-threatening infections during recent military combat operations. Many combat-relevant fungal pathogens are refractory to current antifungal therapy. Therefore, animal models of WIFDs are urgently needed to investigate new therapeutic solutions. Our study establishes combat-relevant murine models of wound mucormycosis using Rhizopus arrhizus and Lichtheimia corymbifera , two Mucorales species that cause wound mucormycosis worldwide. These models recapitulate the characteristics of combat-related wounds from explosions, including blast overpressure exposure, full-thickness skin injury, fascial damage, and muscle crush. The independent inoculation of both pathogens caused sustained infections and enlarged wounds. Histopathological analysis confirmed the presence of necrosis and fungal hyphae in the wound bed and adjacent muscle tissue. Semi-quantification of fungal burden by colony-forming units corroborated the infection. Treatment with liposomal amphotericin B, 30 mg/kg, effectively controlled R. arrhizus growth and significantly reduced residual fungal burden in infected wounds ( p < 0.001). This study establishes the first combat-relevant murine model of wound mucormycosis, paving the way for developing and evaluating novel antifungal therapies against combat-associated WIFDs.

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