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Novel rat models to study primary genital herpes simplex virus-2 infection

Journal article
Authors Karin Önnheim
Maria Ekblad
Staffan Görander
Stefan Lange
Eva Jennische
Tomas Bergström
S. Wildt
Jan-Åke Liljeqvist
Published in Archives of Virology
Volume 160
Issue 5
Pages 1153-1161
ISSN 0304-8608
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Pages 1153-1161
Language en
Subject categories Virology


In this study we describe that six rat models (SD, WIST, LEW, BN, F344 and DA) are susceptible to intravaginal herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) infection after pre-treatment with progesterone. At a virus dose of 5 x 10(6) PFU of HSV-2, all rat models were infected presenting anti-HSV-2 antibodies, infectious virus in vaginal washes, and HSV-2 DNA genome copies in lumbosacral dorsal root ganglia and the spinal cord. Most of the LEW, BN, F344, and DA rats succumbed in systemic progressive symptoms at day 8-14 post infection, but presented no or mild genital inflammation while SD and WIST rats were mostly infected asymptomatically. Infected SD rats did not reactivate HSV-2 spontaneously or after cortisone treatment. In an HSV-2 virus dose reduction study, F344 rats were shown to be most susceptible. We also investigated whether an attenuated HSV-1 strain (KOS321) given intravaginally, could protect from a subsequent HSV-2 infection. All LEW, BN, and F344 rats survived a primary HSV-1 infection and no neuronal infection was established. In BN and F344 rats, anti-HSV-1 antibodies were readily detected while LEW rats were seronegative. In contrast to na < ve LEW, BN, and F344 rats where only 3 of 18 animals survived 5 x 10(6) PFU of HSV-2, 23 of 25 previously HSV-1 infected rats survived a challenge with HSV-2. The described models provide a new approach to investigate protective effects of anti-viral microbicides and vaccine candidates, as well as to study asymptomatic primary genital HSV-2 infection.

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