Zika Rhesus Macaque Model
In response to the recent emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) in North and South America, there is an urgent need for animal models to test vaccines and therapeutics against this zoonotic pathogen. Non-human primates models are often needed for vaccine and immunomodulatory therapeutic evaluation due to their close evolutionary proximity to humans and the similarity of their physiology and immunology. IITRI has developed a Rhesus macaque Zika infection model for the preclinical testing of vaccines and antiviral therapeutics.
Eighteen Rhesus macaques were infected with 1x106 PFU of Zika virus via the subcutaneous route. Animals were monitored for clinical signs including weight loss, rash, body temperature, and survival, as well as viral load in blood samples, oral swabs and semen samples.
Results and Conclusions
- Rhesus macaques exhibited few slinical signs of infection, much like humans, with no observed change in body weight, body temperature or activity levels.
- Viral genomes were easily detected by qRT-PCR extracts of blood samples for as much as a week after infection. Viral load was also assessed in oral swabs and in semen samples for up to two months after infection. (Figure above showing blood viremia of Rhesus macaques following infection with ZIKV).
- The Zika Rhesus model partly recapitulates some clinical features and viral kinetics in ZIKV-infected patients, and is expected to be useful in the evaluation of vaccines and antivirals against ZIKV.
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