Animal models of human respiratory syncytial virus disease

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2011 Aug;301(2):L148-56. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00065.2011. Epub 2011 May 13.


Infection with the human pneumovirus pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV), causes a wide spectrum of respiratory disease, notably among infants and the elderly. Laboratory animal studies permit detailed experimental modeling of hRSV disease and are therefore indispensable in the search for novel therapies and preventative strategies. Present animal models include several target species for hRSV, including chimpanzees, cattle, sheep, cotton rats, and mice, as well as alternative animal pneumovirus models, such as bovine RSV and pneumonia virus of mice. These diverse animal models reproduce different features of hRSV disease, and their utilization should therefore be based on the scientific hypothesis under investigation. The purpose of this review is to summarize the strengths and limitations of each of these animal models. Our intent is to provide a resource for investigators and an impetus for future research.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Genome, Viral
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pan troglodytes
  • Phylogeny
  • Pneumovirus Infections / veterinary
  • Rats
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / pathology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / veterinary*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human* / genetics
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human* / physiology
  • Sheep
  • Sigmodontinae
  • Virus Replication