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December 28. - 2020

African Green Monkeys Established as Suitable Model for Covid-19

A large part of gaining a better understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 is finding the most suitable animal models to study the effects of the disease. As primates are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom they have been one of the animal groups used to study the pathogenesis of the disease.

In a paper published in Nature Immunology in November by researchers, at the University of Texas Medical Branch, African Green Monkeys (AGMs) are established as an appropriate model for the disease.

Body temperature measured using Star-Oddi loggers
In the study, AGMs were exposed to low-passage SARS-CoV-2. Among the data collected was body temperature. This data was collected using Star-Oddi’s DST micro-T temperature loggers implanted in six AGMs and set to measure at 15-minute intervals.

A model for pathogenesis and re-infection
AGMs were shown to mimic several aspects that present in human infection. This included pronounced viral replication as well as pulmonary lesions and fever in three of the six animals. In addition, the data showed that the animals were protected from re-infection 35 days after exposure to the virus.

Implanted loggers an important tool for detecting fever
Only one previous study has detected elevated core body temperature in NHPs infected with SARS-CoV-2. The authors speculate that this may be because previous studies may not have picked up fever measurements due to infrequent temperature measurements.

The implantable loggers used in this study, however, provided a detailed temperature profile throughout the whole study making it easy to identify even low-grade fever.

In conclusion, the researchers point to AGMs as an animal model that can be used to conduct pathogenesis studies, screen potential vaccines and analyse immune responses to SARS-CoV-2.