A mouse model of chikungunya virus-induced musculoskeletal inflammatory disease: evidence of arthritis, tenosynovitis, myositis, and persistence

Am J Pathol. 2011 Jan;178(1):32-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2010.11.018. Epub 2010 Dec 23.


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an emerging mosquito-borne Alphavirus, causes debilitating rheumatic disease in humans that can last for weeks to months. Starting in 2004, a CHIKV outbreak in the Indian Ocean region affected millions of people, and infected travelers introduced CHIKV to new regions. The pathogenesis of CHIKV is poorly understood, and no approved vaccines or specific therapies exist. A major challenge to the study of CHIKV disease is the lack of a small animal model that recapitulates the major outcomes of human infection. In this study, the pathogenesis of CHIKV in C57BL/6J mice was investigated using biological and molecular clones of CHIKV isolated from human serum (CHIKV SL15649). After 14-day-old mice were inoculated with CHIKV SL15649 in the footpad, they displayed reduced weight gain and swelling of the inoculated limb. Histologic analysis of hind limb sections revealed severe necrotizing myositis, mixed inflammatory cell arthritis, chronic active tenosynovitis, and multifocal vasculitis. Interestingly, these disease signs and viral RNA persisted in musculoskeletal tissues for at least 3 weeks after inoculation. This work demonstrates the development of a mouse model of CHIKV infection with clinical manifestations and histopathologic findings that are consistent with the disease signs of CHIKV-infected humans, providing a useful tool for studying viral and host factors that drive CHIKV pathogenesis and for evaluating potential therapeutics against this emerging viral disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections / pathology
  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / virology*
  • Chikungunya Fever
  • Chikungunya virus*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Hindlimb / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mice*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Myositis / pathology
  • Myositis / virology*
  • Tenosynovitis / pathology
  • Tenosynovitis / virology*