Characterization of Simbu serogroup virus infections in type I interferon receptor knock-out mice
In late 2011, Schmallenberg virus (SBV), a novel, arthropod-borne, teratogenic orthobunyavirus, emerged near the German/Dutch border and thereafter spread rapidly throughout the continent thereby causing great economic losses in European livestock. SBV mainly infects ruminants and closely related viruses such as Sabo virus (SABOV), Simbu virus (SIMBUV) and Sathuperi virus (SATV) have been isolated from their insect-vectors or putative ruminant hosts. However, information about their pathogenesis and in vivo studies with SABOV, SIMBUV, and SATV are scarce. As experimental infections of ruminants are comprehensive and time-consuming, an SBV small animal model was assessed regarding its suitability for studying Simbu viruses. Adult type I interferon deficient mice (IFNAR-/-) were subcutaneously infected with the Simbu serogroup members SABOV, SIMV and SATV, respectively, and compared to SBV-infected mice. All animals were clinically, virologically, serologically, and pathologically examined. The clinical signs were mainly characterised by the loss of body weight and by paralysis. In blood, and samples from the spleen and brain, high loads of viral genome were detected using newly developed real-time PCR assays. The most common histologic lesions included meningo-encephalomyelitis, perivascular cuffing of lymphocytes and macrophages, neuronal degeneration and gliosis. These lesions have also been described in foetuses after transplacental infection with SBV. In-situ hybridisation signals were widely distributed in multiple neurons of the brain and spinal cord in all examined, inoculated mice. In conclusion, IFNAR-/- mice are a suitable animal model for pathogenesis studies of a broad range of Simbu serogroup viruses since all the viruses examined displayed a common pattern of viral organ and tissue distribution in this mouse model.
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