Animal models of lassa fever

Rachel A. Sattler, Slobodan Paessler, Hinh Ly, Cheng Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Lassa virus (LASV), the causative agent of Lassa fever, is estimated to be responsible for up to 300,000 new infections and 5000 deaths each year across Western Africa. The most recent 2018 and 2019 Nigerian outbreaks featured alarmingly high fatality rates of up to 25.4%. In addition to the severity and high fatality of the disease, a significant population of survivors suffer from long-term sequelae, such as sensorineural hearing loss, resulting in a huge socioeconomic burden in endemic regions. There are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved vaccines, and therapeutics remain extremely limited for Lassa fever. Development of countermeasures depends on relevant animal models that can develop a disease strongly mimicking the pathogenic features of Lassa fever in humans. The objective of this review is to evaluate the currently available animal models for LASV infection with an emphasis on their pathogenic and histologic characteristics as well as recent advances in the development of a suitable rodent model. This information may facilitate the development of an improved animal model for understanding disease pathogenesis of Lassa fever and for vaccine or antiviral testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number197
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R.A.S. was supported by the Institute for Translational Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch, which is supported in part and by the Clinical and Translational Science Award NRSA (TL1) Training Core (TL1TR001440) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. Work in the Paessler laboratory was supported in parts by Public Health Service grants RO1AI093445 and RO1AI129198 and the John. S. Dunn Distinguished Chair in Biodefense endowment. Work in the Ly lab was supported in parts by the Public Health Service grant R01AI131586 and by funds from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. C.H. was supported by UTMB Commitment Fund P84373. We apologize for any works that we were unable to include due to the constraints of the review. The authors would like to thank Junki Maruyama for consultation over the course of writing. C.H. would like to acknowledge the Galveston National Laboratory (supported by the Public Health Service award 5UC7AI094660) for support of his research activity.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Animal models
  • Arenaviruses
  • Lassa fever
  • Lassa virus
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers


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