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PLoS One. 2009;4(4):e5171. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005171. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Establishment of a bluetongue virus infection model in mice that are deficient in the alpha/beta interferon receptor.

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Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal, CISA-INIA, Madrid, Spain.


Bluetongue (BT) is a noncontagious, insect-transmitted disease of ruminants caused by the bluetongue virus (BTV). A laboratory animal model would greatly facilitate the studies of pathogenesis, immune response and vaccination against BTV. Herein, we show that adult mice deficient in type I IFN receptor (IFNAR((-/-))) are highly susceptible to BTV-4 and BTV-8 infection when the virus is administered intravenously. Disease was characterized by ocular discharges and apathy, starting at 48 hours post-infection and quickly leading to animal death within 60 hours of inoculation. Infectious virus was recovered from the spleen, lung, thymus, and lymph nodes indicating a systemic infection. In addition, a lymphoid depletion in spleen, and severe pneumonia were observed in the infected mice. Furthermore, IFNAR((-/-)) adult mice immunized with a BTV-4 inactivated vaccine showed the induction of neutralizing antibodies against BTV-4 and complete protection against challenge with a lethal dose of this virus. The data indicate that this mouse model may facilitate the study of BTV pathogenesis, and the development of new effective vaccines for BTV.

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