Infection of Inbred Rat Strains with Rift Valley Fever Virus: Development of a Congenic Resistant Strain and Observations on Age-Dependence of Resistance

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  • United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland
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A congenic rat strain (WF.LEW) was derived from the susceptible Wistar-Furth (WF) (background strain) and the resistant LEW (donor strain) inbred strains and was used to evaluate the phenotypic expression of a dominant Mendelian gene that confers resistance to fatal hepatic disease caused by the ZH501 strain of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV). Resistance to hepatic disease developed gradually with age, with full expression at approximately 10 weeks in the WF.LEW and LEW rat strains. The ZH501 strain caused fatal hepatitis in WF rats regardless of age. However, resistance to the SA75 RVFV strain (relatively non-pathogenic for adult rats), was age- and dose-dependent in both WF and LEW rats. The resistance gene transferred to the newly derived WF.LEW congenic rat strain appears to amplify age-dependent resistance of adult rats, resulting in protection against fatal hepatic disease caused by the virulent ZH501 strain. The congenic rat strain will be a valuable asset in elucidating the mechanism of resistance to Rift Valley fever virus governed by the dominant Mendelian gene.