JCVI: Enterovirus D-68 Infection, Prophylaxis, and Vaccination in a Novel Permissive Animal Model, the Cotton Rat (Sigmodon Hispidus).
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Patel MC, Wang W, Pletneva LM, Rajagopala SV, Tan Y, Hartert TV, Boukhvalova MS, Vogel SN, Das SR, Blanco JC

Enterovirus D-68 Infection, Prophylaxis, and Vaccination in a Novel Permissive Animal Model, the Cotton Rat (Sigmodon Hispidus).

PloS One. 2016 Nov 01; 11: e0166336.

External Citation


In recent years, there has been a significant increase in detection of Enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68) among patients with severe respiratory infections worldwide. EV-D68 is now recognized as a re-emerging pathogen; however, due to lack of a permissive animal model for EV-D68, a comprehensive understanding of the pathogenesis and immune response against EV-D68 has been hampered. Recently, it was shown that EV-D68 has a strong affinity for α2,6-linked sialic acids (SAs) and we have shown previously that α2,6-linked SAs are abundantly present in the respiratory tract of cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus). Thus, we hypothesized that cotton rats could be a potential model for EV-D68 infection. Here, we evaluated the ability of two recently isolated EV-D68 strains (VANBT/1 and MO/14/49), along with the historical prototype Fermon strain (ATCC), to infect cotton rats. We found that cotton rats are permissive to EV-D68 infection without virus adaptation. The different strains of EV-D68 showed variable infection profiles and the ability to produce neutralizing antibody (NA) upon intranasal infection or intramuscular immunization. Infection with the VANBT/1 resulted in significant induction of pulmonary cytokine gene expression and lung pathology. Intramuscular immunization with live VANBT/1 or MO/14/49 induced strong homologous antibody responses, but a moderate heterologous NA response. We showed that passive prophylactic administration of serum with high content of NA against VANBT/1 resulted in an efficient antiviral therapy. VANBT/1-immunized animals showed complete protection from VANBT/1 challenge, but induced strong pulmonary Th1 and Th2 cytokine responses and enhanced lung pathology, indicating the generation of exacerbated immune response by immunization. In conclusion, our data illustrate that the cotton rat is a powerful animal model that provides an experimental platform to investigate pathogenesis, immune response, anti-viral therapies and vaccines against EV-D68 infection.