Aerosol exposure to intermediate size Nipah virus particles induces neurological disease in African green monkeys

by Dima A. Hammoud, Margaret R. Lentz, Abigail Lara, Jordan K. Bohannon, Irwin Feuerstein, Louis Huzella, Peter B. Jahrling, Matthew Lackemeyer, Joseph Laux, Oscar Rojas, Philip Sayre, Jeffrey Solomon, Yu Cong, Vincent Munster, Michael R. Holbrook

Nipah virus (NiV) infection can lead to severe respiratory or neurological disease in humans. Transmission of NiV has been shown to occur through contact with virus contaminated fomites or consumption of contaminated food. Previous results using the African green monkey (AGM) model of NiV infection identified aspects of infection that, while similar to humans, don’t fully recapitulate disease. Previous studies also demonstrate near uniform lethality that is not consistent with human NiV infection. In these studies, aerosol exposure using an intermediate particle size (7μm) was used to mimic potential human exposure by facilitating virus deposition in the upper respiratory tract. Computed tomography evaluation found some animals developed pulmonary parenchymal disease including consolidations, ground-glass opacities, and reactive adenopathy. Despite the lack of neurological signs, magnetic resonance imaging identified distinct brain lesions in three animals, similar to those previously reported in NiV-infected patients. Immunological characterization of tissues collected at necropsy suggested a local pulmonary inflammatory response with increased levels of macrophages in the lung, but a limited neurologic response. These data provide the first clear evidence of neurological involvement in the AGM that recapitulates human disease. With the development of a disease model that is more representative of human disease, these data suggest that NiV infection in the AGM may be appropriate for evaluating therapeutic countermeasures directed at virus-induced neuropathogenesis.

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