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A Guinea Pig Model of Zika Virus Infection

10 April 2017


Animal models are critical to understand the transmission and pathogenesis of infectious diseases and to develop countermeasures for their prevention and spread. Here, we report that immunocompetent Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs are susceptible to infection by a contemporary American strain of Zika virus (ZIKV). Following subcutaneous inoculation with the PRVABC59 strain of ZIKV, guinea pigs developed clinical signs of infection, characterized by fever, lethargy, hunched back, ruffled fur, and decreased mobility. ZIKV was detected in the whole blood and serum, using qRT-PCR and plaque assay. Anti-ZIKV neutralizing antibodies were detected by PRNT. ZIKV infection resulted in a dramatic increase in protein levels of multiple cytokines, chemokines and growth factors in the serum. ZIKV replication was observed in spleen and brain, with the highest viral load in the brain. These data demonstrate that after subcutaneous inoculation, a contemporary ZIKV strain is neurotropic in guinea pigs. Thus, the guinea pig model recapitulates various clinical features and viral kinetics observed in ZIKV-infected humans, and may serve as a model to study ZIKV pathogenesis, including pregnancy outcomes and for evaluation of vaccines and therapeutics.

Kumar M, Krause KK, Azouz F, Nakano E, Nerurkar VR. A guinea pig model of Zika virus infection. Virology Journal. 2017;14:75. DOI: 10.1186/s12985-017-0750-4.