Background: The objective of this study was to compare intravaginal (ivg) and subcutaneous (sc) administration of the guinea pig cytomegalovirus (GPCMV) in pregnant and non-pregnant guinea pigs. These studies tested the hypotheses that ivg infection would elicit immune responses, produce maternal viremia, and lead to vertical transmission, with an efficiency similar to the traditionally employed sc route. Results: Four groups of age- and size-matched guinea pigs were studied. Two groups were pregnant, and two groups were not pregnant. Animals received 5x105 plaque-forming units (PFU) of a GPCMV reconstituted from an infectious bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) construct containing the full-length GPCMV genome. Seroconversion was compared by IgG ELISA, and viremia (DNAemia) was monitored by PCR. In both pregnant and non-pregnant animals, sc inoculation resulted in significantly higher serum ELISA titers than ivg inoculation at 8 and 12 weeks post-infection. Patterns of viremia (DNAemia) were similar in animals inoculated by either sc or ivg route. However, in pregnant guinea pigs, animals inoculated by both routes experienced an earlier onset of DNAemia than did non-pregnant animals. Neither the percentage of dead pups nor the percentage of GPCMV positive placentas differed by inoculation route. Conclusions: In the guinea pig model of congenital CMV infection, the ivg route is as efficient at causing congenital infection as the conventional but non-physiologic sc route. This finding could facilitate future experimental evaluation of vaccines and antiviral interventions in this highly relevant animal model.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants R01HD044864, HD038416 and R03AI083919-0109 from the National Institutes of Health, and an Infectious Diseases Society of America summer research fellowship (to MJO).