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Numerous animal models of systemic orthopoxvirus disease have been developed to evaluate therapeutics against variola virus (VARV), the causative agent of smallpox. These animal models do not resemble the disease presentation in human smallpox and most used surrogate Orthopoxviruses. A rodent model using VARV has a multitude of advantages, and previous investigations identified the CAST/EiJ mouse as highly susceptible to monkeypox virus infection, making it of interest to determine if these rodents are also susceptible to VARV infection. In this study, we inoculated CAST/EiJ mice with a range of VARV doses (102-106 plaque forming units). Some animals had detectable viable VARV from the oropharynx between days 3 and 12 post inoculation. Despite evidence of disease, the CAST/EiJ mouse does not provide a model for clinical smallpox due to mild signs of morbidity and limited skin lesions. However, in contrast to previous rodent models using VARV challenge (i.e. prairie dogs and SCID mice), a robust immune response was observed in the CAST/EiJ mice (measured by Immunoglobulin G enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). This is an advantage of this model for the study of VARV and presents a unique potential for the study of the immunomodulatory pathways following VARV infection. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Nadia F Gallardo-Romero, Christina L Hutson, Darin Carroll, Ashley V Kondas, Johanna S Salzer, Sharon Dietz-Ostergaard, Scott Smith, Paul Hudson, Victoria Olson, Inger Damon. Use of live Variola virus to determine whether CAST/EiJ mice are a suitable surrogate animal model for human smallpox. Virus research. 2020 Jan 02;275:197772

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PMID: 31593747

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