Establishing a new animal model for hepadnaviral infection: Susceptibility of Chinese Marmota-species to woodchuck hepatitis virus infection

Bao Ju Wang, Yong Jun Tian, Zhong Ji Meng, Min Jiang, Bo Qing Wei, Yuan Qing Tao, Wei Fan, An Yi Li, Jun Jie Bao, Xin Yu Li, Zheng Mao Zhang, Zhong Dong Wang, Hu Wang, Michael Roggendorf, Meng Ji Lu, Dong Liang Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Hepatitis B virus infection (HBV) is a major medical problem in China. The lack of a suitable infection model in China is recognized as an obstacle for research on HBV in China. Chinese Marmota-species is phylogenetically closely related to Marmota monax, thus, it might be suitable to serve as an animal model for HBV infection. Therefore, we attempted to prove the claim about the existence of woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV)-like viruses in Chinese Marmota-species and to determine the susceptibility of these species to experimental WHV infection. In the present study, 653 sera from three Chinese Marmota-species, Marmota himalayana, Marmota baibacina and Marmota bobak, were screened for WHV-like viruses by serological and molecular assays. The susceptibility to WHV of three species was investigated by experimental infection and monitored by testing of anti-WHc and WHsAg by ELISA, detection of WHV DNA by PCR, and detection of WHV replication intermediates and antigens in liver samples. No evidence for the existence of a genetically closely related virus to WHV in three Chinese Marmota-species was found by serological assays and PCR. M. himalayana was susceptible to WHV infection as inoculated animals became positive for anti-WHc, WHsAg and WHV DNA. Further, WHV replication intermediates and proteins were detected in liver samples. In contrast, M. baibacina remained negative for tested virological parameters. M. bobak species showed a limited susceptibility to WHV. Our data do not support early reports about WHV-like viruses in China. M. himalayana is suitable for the establishment of a model for hepadnaviral infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-691
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of General Virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


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