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Virology. 2007 Dec 5;369(1):143-52. Epub 2007 Aug 16.

Dengue virus infection and immune response in humanized RAG2(-/-)gamma(c)(-/-) (RAG-hu) mice.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, 1619 Campus Delivery, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1619, USA.


Dengue viral (DENV) pathogenesis and vaccine studies are hampered by the lack of an ideal animal model mimicking human disease and eliciting an adaptive human immune response. Although currently available animal models have been very useful in dissecting some key aspects of disease pathogenesis, a major limitation with these is the lack of a human immune response. In this study, we sought to overcome this difficulty by utilizing a novel mouse model that permits multi-lineage human hematopoiesis and immune response following transplantation with human hematopoietic stem cells. To generate immunocompetent humanized mice, neonatal RAG2(-/-)gamma(c)(-/-) mice were xenografted with human CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells, resulting in de novo development of major functional cells of the human adaptive immune system. To evaluate susceptibility to dengue viral infection, humanized mice were challenged with DEN-2 serotype. Viremia lasting up to 3 weeks was detected in infected mice with viral titers reaching up to 10(6.3) RNA copies/ml. Fever characteristic of dengue was also noted in infected mice. Presence of human anti-dengue antibodies was evaluated using an antibody capture ELISA. Anti-dengue IgM was first detected by 2 weeks post-infection followed by IgG at 6 weeks. Sera from some of the infected mice were also found to be capable of dengue virus neutralization. Infected mouse sera showed reactivity with the viral envelope and capsid proteins in immunoprecipitation assay. These results demonstrate for the first time that humanized mice are capable of dengue viral primary human immune responses thus paving the way for new dengue immunopathogenesis and vaccine studies.

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