A Hamster-Derived West Nile Virus Isolate Induces Persistent Renal Infection in Mice

Vandana Saxena, Guorui Xie, Bei Li, Tierra Farris, Thomas Welte, Bin Gong, Paul Boor, Ping Wu, Shao Jun Tang, Robert Tesh, Tian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background:West Nile virus (WNV) can persist long term in the brain and kidney tissues of humans, non-human primates, and hamsters. In this study, mice were infected with WNV strain H8912, previously cultured from the urine of a persistently infected hamster, to determine its pathogenesis in a murine host.Methodology/Principal Findings:We found that WNV H8912 was highly attenuated for neuroinvasiveness in mice. Following a systemic infection, viral RNA could be detected quickly in blood and spleen and much later in kidneys. WNV H8912 induced constitutive IL-10 production, upregulation of IFN-β and IL-1β expression, and a specific IgM response on day 10 post-infection. WNV H8912 persisted preferentially in kidneys with mild renal inflammation, and less frequently in spleen for up to 2.5 months post infection. This was concurrent with detectable serum WNV-specific IgM and IgG production. There were also significantly fewer WNV- specific T cells and lower inflammatory responses in kidneys than in spleen. Previous studies have shown that systemic wild-type WNV NY99 infection induced virus persistence preferentially in spleen than in mouse kidneys. Here, we noted that splenocytes of WNV H8912-infected mice produced significantly less IL-10 than those of WNV NY99-infected mice. Finally, WNV H8912 was also attenuated in neurovirulence. Following intracranial inoculation, WNV persisted in the brain at a low frequency, concurrent with neither inflammatory responses nor neuronal damage in the brain.Conclusions:WNV H8912 is highly attenuated in both neuroinvasiveness and neurovirulence in mice. It induces a low and delayed anti-viral response in mice and preferentially persists in the kidneys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2275
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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