Researchers create first chikungunya animal model

Feb 19, 2008

Researchers have developed the first animal model of the infection caused by chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an emerging arbovirus associated with large-scale epidemics that hit the Indian Ocean (especially the French Island of La Réunion) in 2005, later spreading to India, and Italy in 2007. Using this mouse model, scientists of the Institut Pasteur and INSERM determined which tissues and cells are infected by the virus in both the mild and severe forms of the disease it causes. They detail their findings in an article published February 15 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

The main symptoms of CHIKV —fever, joint and muscle pains, and skin rash— are now well known by the medical community and the general public. However, the pathophysiology of this infection remains poorly understood, notably the factors responsible for severe disease with neurological manifestations, which are mainly observed among newborns and the elderly.

The CHIKV animal model carries a deletion of a gene encoding one of the key proteins in the innate antiviral immune response. When only one of the two copies of the gene is deleted, the mice mimic the disease in its benign form. With both versions deleted, and therefore no ability to produce the protein, they constitute a model for the severe forms of the infection.

With this model, the researchers show how after an initial phase of viral replication in the liver, the infection extends to the joints, muscles and skin — where the symptoms materialize in humans. In the most severe cases, it then disseminates to the central nervous system. The model also allowed the investigators to study the mother-to-child transmission of the virus, a complication that was recorded for the first time during the La Réunion outbreak.

The development of this first mouse model provides chikungunya researchers with an experimental tool that sheds light on the pathophysiology of the infection, paving the way for future treatments and vaccine candidates against this emerging viral disease in vivo.

Citation: Couderc T, Chre´tien F, Schilte C, Disson O, Brigitte M, et al. (2008) A mouse model for Chikungunya: young age and inefficient type-I interferon signaling are risk factors for severe disease. PLoS Pathog 4(2): e29. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0040029

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: New camera sheds light on mate choice of swordtail fish

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New defense mechanism against viruses discovered

17 hours ago

Researchers have discovered that a known quality control mechanism in human, animal and plant cells is active against viruses. They think it might represent one of the oldest defense mechanisms against viruses ...

Tracing water channels in cell surface receptors

Sep 09, 2014

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest class of cell surface receptors in our cells, involved in signal transmission across the cell membrane. One of the biggest questions is how a signal recognized at the extracellular ...

New mechanism in gene regulation revealed

Sep 08, 2014

The information encoded in our genes is translated into proteins, which ultimately mediate biological functions in an organism. Messenger RNA (mRNA) plays an important role, as it is the molecular template used for translation. ...

An "anchor" that keeps proteins together

Sep 04, 2014

All organisms react to different external and internal stimuli: if, for example, the hyphae fungus Sordaria macrospora is supplied with food, it produces fruiting bodies as part of its oestrous cycle. To ...

Weathering the storm

Sep 03, 2014

Old-timers sharing childhood stories about growing up in Maine sometimes recount hiking 10 miles uphill in 3 feet of snow to get to school—and home.

Recommended for you

Healthy humans make nice homes for viruses

9 hours ago

The same viruses that make us sick can take up residence in and on the human body without provoking a sneeze, cough or other troublesome symptom, according to new research at Washington University School ...

Meteorite that doomed dinosaurs remade forests

12 hours ago

The meteorite impact that spelled doom for the dinosaurs 66 million years ago decimated the evergreens among the flowering plants to a much greater extent than their deciduous peers, according to a study ...

New camera sheds light on mate choice of swordtail fish

13 hours ago

We have all seen a peacock show its extravagant, colorful tail feathers in courtship of a peahen. Now, a group of researchers have used a special camera developed by an engineer at Washington University in ...

User comments : 0