Development of a new Tacaribearenavirus infection model and its use to explore antiviral activity of a novelaristeromycin analog

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A growing number of arenaviruses can cause a devastating viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) syndrome. They pose a public health threat as emerging viruses and because of their potential use as bioterror agents. All of the highly pathogenic New World arenaviruses (NWA) phylogenetically segregate into clade B and require maximum biosafety containment facilities for their study. Tacaribe virus (TCRV) is a nonpathogenic member of clade B that is closely related to the VHF arenaviruses at the amino acid level. Despite this relatedness, TCRV lacks the ability to antagonize the host interferon (IFN) response, which likely contributes to its inability to cause disease in animals other than newborn mice.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Here we describe a new mouse model based on TCRV challenge of AG129 IFN-α/β and -γ receptor-deficient mice. Titration of the virus by intraperitoneal (i.p.) challenge of AG129 mice resulted in an LD50 of ∼100 fifty percent cell culture infectious doses. Virus replication was evident in the serum, liver, lung, spleen, and brain 4–8 days after inoculation. MY-24, an aristeromycin derivative active against TCRV in cell culture at 0.9 µM, administered i.p. once daily for 7 days, offered highly significant (P<0.001) protection against mortality in the AG129 mouse TCRV infection model, without appreciably reducing viral burden. In contrast, in a hamster model of arenaviral hemorrhagic fever based on challenge with clade A Pichinde arenavirus, MY-24 did not offer significant protection against mortality.


MY-24 is believed to act as an inhibitor of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase, but our findings suggest that it may ameliorate disease by blunting the effects of the host response that play a role in disease pathogenesis. The new AG129 mouse TCRV infection model provides a safe and cost-effective means to conduct early-stage pre-clinical evaluations of candidate antiviral therapies that target clade B arenaviruses.


PLoS ONE (2010) 5, pii: e12760

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