A non mouse-adapted dengue virus strain as a new model of severe dengue infection in AG129 mice

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010 Apr 27;4(4):e672. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000672.


The spread of dengue (DEN) worldwide combined with an increased severity of the DEN-associated clinical outcomes have made this mosquito-borne virus of great global public health importance. Progress in understanding DEN pathogenesis and in developing effective treatments has been hampered by the lack of a suitable small animal model. Most of the DEN clinical isolates and cell culture-passaged DEN virus strains reported so far require either host adaptation, inoculation with a high dose and/or intravenous administration to elicit a virulent phenotype in mice which results, at best, in a productive infection with no, few, or irrelevant disease manifestations, and with mice dying within few days at the peak of viremia. Here we describe a non-mouse-adapted DEN2 virus strain (D2Y98P) that is highly infectious in AG129 mice (lacking interferon-alpha/beta and -gamma receptors) upon intraperitoneal administration. Infection with a high dose of D2Y98P induced cytokine storm, massive organ damage, and severe vascular leakage, leading to haemorrhage and rapid death of the animals at the peak of viremia. In contrast, very interestingly and uniquely, infection with a low dose of D2Y98P led to asymptomatic viral dissemination and replication in relevant organs, followed by non-paralytic death of the animals few days after virus clearance, similar to the disease kinetic in humans. Spleen damage, liver dysfunction and increased vascular permeability, but no haemorrhage, were observed in moribund animals, suggesting intact vascular integrity, a cardinal feature in DEN shock syndrome. Infection with D2Y98P thus offers the opportunity to further decipher some of the aspects of dengue pathogenesis and provides a new platform for drug and vaccine testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Structures / pathology
  • Animal Structures / virology
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Death
  • Dengue Virus / pathogenicity*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Interferon / deficiency
  • Severe Dengue / pathology*
  • Severe Dengue / virology*


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Interferon