An animal model of neonatal cytomegalovirus infection

Fernando J. Bravo, Nigel Bourne, Mark R. Schleiss, David I. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common cause of congenital infection in the developed world and can lead to a life-threatening disease. We therefore developed an animal model to evaluate candidate anti-CMV drugs and to further define the pathogenesis of CMV infections. Newborn guinea pigs were infected by intraperitoneal administration of 106pfu of a virulent salivary gland (SG) passaged guinea pig CMV (gpCMV) within 48h of birth. Inoculation of animals produced 50% overall mortality. A lack of weight gain was also a hallmark of infection. By day 14 after inoculation the weight of gpCMV-infected animals was significantly less than controls (152.9±45g versus 254.7±38.5g, P<0.0001). The most consistent isolation and highest titers of virus were found in the liver and spleen early while lung titers were maximal at day 10. A quantitative competitive PCR (qcPCR) assay confirmed the presence of a high CMV viral load in infected organs. Antiviral treatment with cyclic HPMPC (cHPMPC) for 7 days significantly reduced mortality (1/20 versus 14/20, P<0.001) and viral replication but did not improve weight gain. This model should be useful for further evaluations of the pathogenesis of CMV infections and for evaluation of antiviral drugs and vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalAntiviral Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute of Health Grants AI-65289 and HD38416-01, and March of Dimes Basic Research Grants 6-FY98/99-0416 and FY01-226.


  • Animal model
  • Congenital CMV
  • Guinea pig cytomegalovirus
  • Neonatal CMV
  • cHPMPC


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