Animal models used to assess influenza antivirals

Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2018 Dec;13(12):1131-1139. doi: 10.1080/17460441.2018.1540586. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


Influenza continues to be a major public health concern. Antivirals play an important role in limiting the burden of disease and preventing infection and/or transmission. The developments of such agents are heavily dependent on pre-clinical evaluation where animal models are used to answer questions that cannot be easily addressed in human clinical trials. There are numerous animal models available to study the potential benefits of influenza antivirals but each animal model has its own pros and cons. Areas covered: In this review, the authors describe the advantages and disadvantages of using mice, ferrets, guinea pigs, cotton rats, golden hamsters and non-human primates to evaluate influenza therapeutics. Expert opinion: Animals used for evaluating influenza therapeutics differ in their susceptibility to influenza virus infection, their ability to display clinical signs of illness following viral infection and in their practical requirements such as housing. Therefore, defining the scientific question being asked and the data output required will assist in selecting the most appropriate animal model.

Keywords: Influenza; animal models; antivirals; ferrets; mice; transmission.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Cricetinae
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Ferrets
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy
  • Influenza, Human / transmission
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Mesocricetus
  • Mice
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / drug therapy*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / transmission
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / virology
  • Primates
  • Sigmodontinae


  • Antiviral Agents