Filovirus virulence in interferon α/β and γ double knockout mice, and treatment with favipiravir

Jason E. Comer, Olivier Escaffre, Natasha Neef, Trevor Brasel, Terry L. Juelich, Jennifer K. Smith, Jeanon Smith, Birte Kalveram, David D. Perez, Shane Massey, Lihong Zhang, Alexander N. Freiberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The 2014 Ebolavirus outbreak in West Africa highlighted the need for vaccines and therapeutics to prevent and treat filovirus infections. A well-characterized small animal model that is susceptible to wild-type filoviruses would facilitate the screening of anti-filovirus agents. To that end, we characterized knockout mice lacking α/β and γ interferon receptors (IFNAGR KO) as a model for wild-type filovirus infection. Intraperitoneal challenge of IFNAGR KO mice with several known human pathogenic species from the genus Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus, except Bundibugyo ebolavirus and Taï Forest ebolavirus, caused variable mortality rate. Further characterization of the prototype Ebola virus Kikwit isolate infection in this KO mouse model showed 100% lethality down to a dilution equivalent to 1.0 × 10 -1 pfu with all deaths occurring between 7 and 9 days post-challenge. Viral RNA was detectable in serum after challenge with 1.0 × 102 pfu as early as one day after infection. Changes in hematology and serum chemistry became pronounced as the disease progressed and mirrored the histological changes in the spleen and liver that were also consistent with those described for patients with Ebola virus disease. In a proof-of-principle study, treatment of Ebola virus infected IFNAGR KO mice with favipiravir resulted in 83% protection. Taken together, the data suggest that IFNAGR KO mice may be a useful model for early screening of anti-filovirus medical countermeasures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number137
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Ebola virus
  • Filovirus
  • Interferon receptor knockout
  • Mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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