The cotton rat provides a novel model to study genital herpes infection and to evaluate preventive strategies

Kevin C. Yim, Clifford J. Carroll, Ana Tuyama, Natalia Cheshenko, Maria Josefina Carlucci, David D. Porter, Gregory A. Prince, Betsy C. Herold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Prevention of genital herpes and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) is a critical health priority because of the overwhelming impact on women and infants and the epidemiological association with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS. Small animal models are essential for evaluating strategies for prevention or treatment of STI. Neither the marine nor the guinea pig model of genital herpes fully recapitulates human disease. We demonstrate that herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) readily infects inbred cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus). Consistent infection does not require pretreatment with medroxyprogesterone, and primary disease resembles that observed in humans. The animals develop genital lesions and fully recover. During primary infection, viral DNA is also detected in liver, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Clinical self-limited recurrences occur spontaneously but may also be induced by dexamethasone. Pretreatment of cotton rats with PRO 2000 gel, a candidate vaginal microbicide being evaluated in clinical trials to prevent HSV and HIV, protects cotton rats from HSV. Together, these studies suggest that the cotton rat may provide an excellent model to study genital herpes and to evaluate preventive strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14632-14639
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


Dive into the research topics of 'The cotton rat provides a novel model to study genital herpes infection and to evaluate preventive strategies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this