Mechanistic studies of hantavirus persistence in rodent reservoirs have been limited by the lack of a versatile animal model. This report describes findings from experimental infection of inbred Lewis rats with Seoul virus strain 80–39. Rats inoculated with virus intraperitoneally at 6 days of age became persistently infected without clinical signs. Tissues from Seoul virus-inoculated 6-day-old rats were assessed at 6, 9, and 12 weeks post-inoculation for viral RNA by RT-PCR and in situ hybridization (ISH) and for infectious virus by inoculation of Vero E6 cells. Virus was isolated from lung and kidney of infected rats at 6 weeks and viral RNA was detected in lung, kidney, pancreas, salivary gland, brain, spleen, liver and skin at 6, 9 and 12 weeks. Rats inoculated with Seoul virus intraperitoneally at 10 or 21 days of age became infected without clinical signs but had low to undetectable levels of viral RNA in tissues at 6 weeks post-inoculation. ISH identified vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells as common sites of persistent infection. Cultured rat smooth muscle cells and to a lesser extent cultured endothelial cells also were susceptible to Seoul virus infection. Pancreatic infection resulted in insulitis with associated hyperglycemia. These studies demonstrate that infant Lewis rats are uniformly susceptible to asymptomatic persistent Seoul virus infection. Additionally, they offer opportunities for correlative in vivo and in vitro study of Seoul virus interactions in host cell types that support persistent infection.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 1, 2004
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