Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus Memphis 37 Causes Acute Respiratory Disease in Perinatal Lamb Lung
van Geelen, Albert
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of hospitalization due to respiratory illness among infants and young children of industrialized countries. There is a lack of understanding of the severe disease mechanisms as well as limited treatment options, none of which are fully satisfactory. This is partly due to lack of a relevant animal model of perinatal RSV infection that mimics moderate to severe disease in infants. We and others have shown mild disease in perinatal lambs with either a bovine or a human A2 strain of RSV. The Memphis 37 clinical strain of human RSV has been used to produce mild to moderate upper respiratory disease in healthy adult volunteers. We hypothesized that the Memphis 37 strain of RSV would infect perinatal lambs and produce clinical disease similar to that in human infants. Perinatal (3- to 5-day-old) lambs were inoculated intranasally with 2 mL/nostril of 1×105 focus-forming units (FFU)/mL (n=2) or 2.1×108 FFU/mL (n=3) of RSV Memphis 37. Clinical signs, gross and histological lesions, and immune and inflammatory responses were assessed. Memphis 37 caused moderate to severe gross and histologic lesions along with increased mRNA expression of macrophage inflammatory protein. Clinically, four of the five infected lambs had a mild to severe increase in expiratory effort. Intranasally administered RSV strain Memphis 37 infects neonatal lambs with gross, histologic, and immune responses similar to those observed in human infants.