The physiologic responses of Dutch belted rabbits infected with inhalational anthrax

William S. Lawrence, Jason M. Hardcastle, Douglas L. Brining, Lori E. Weaver, Cindy Ponce, Elbert B. Whorton, Johnny W. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, is a category A priority pathogen that causes extensive damage in humans. For this reason, B. anthracis has been the focus of numerous studies using various animal models. In this study, we explored physiologic parameters in Dutch belted rabbits with inhalation anthrax to characterize the disease progression in this model. To this end, we infected Dutch belted rabbits with 100 LD50 B. anthracis Ames spores by nasal instillation and continuously recorded various physiologic parameters by using telemetry. In addition, samples were collected at selected times for serum chemistry, hematology, and blood gas analysis. The animals exhibited hemodynamic and respiratory changes that coincided with those reported in human cases of inhalational anthrax infection, including hypotension, altered heart rate, and respiratory distress. Likewise, hematology, serum chemistry, and blood gas analysis revealed trends comparable to human anthrax-related pathophysiology. The Dutch belted rabbit model of inhalational anthrax exhibited most of the physiologic, hematologic, and biochemical sequelae noted in human cases. Therefore, this rabbit model fulfills several of the criteria of a useful animal model for studying disease pathogenesis and evaluating therapeutics during inhalational anthrax.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Veterinary


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