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    Sin Nombre virus (SNV) is a rodent-borne hantavirus that causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) predominantly in North America. SNV infection of immunocompetent hamsters results in an asymptomatic infection; the only lethal disease model for a pathogenic hantavirus is Andes virus (ANDV) infection of Syrian hamsters. Efforts to create a lethal SNV disease model in hamsters by repeatedly passaging virus through the hamster have demonstrated increased dissemination of the virus but no signs of disease. In this study, we demonstrate that immunosuppression of hamsters through the administration of a combination of dexamethasone and cyclophosphamide, followed by infection with SNV, results in a vascular leak syndrome that accurately mimics both HPS disease in humans and ANDV infection of hamsters. Immunosuppressed hamsters infected with SNV have a mean number of days to death of 13 and display clinical signs associated with HPS, including pulmonary edema. Viral antigen was widely detectable throughout the pulmonary endothelium. Histologic analysis of lung sections showed marked inflammation and edema within the alveolar septa of SNV-infected hamsters, results which are similar to what is exhibited by hamsters infected with ANDV. Importantly, SNV-specific neutralizing polyclonal antibody administered 5 days after SNV infection conferred significant protection against disease. This experiment not only demonstrated that the disease was caused by SNV, it also demonstrated the utility of this animal model for testing candidate medical countermeasures. This is the first report of lethal disease caused by SNV in an adult small-animal model.


    Rebecca L Brocato, Christopher D Hammerbeck, Todd M Bell, Jay B Wells, Laurie A Queen, Jay W Hooper. A lethal disease model for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in immunosuppressed Syrian hamsters infected with Sin Nombre virus. Journal of virology. 2014 Jan;88(2):811-9

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    PMID: 24198421

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