Infection of neonatal mice with the murine norovirus strain WU23 is a robust model to study norovirus pathogenesis

Amy M. Peiper, Emily W. Helm, Quyen Nguyen, Matthew Phillips, Caroline G. Williams, Dhairya Shah, Sarah Tatum, Neha Iyer, Marco Grodzki, Laura B. Eurell, Aqsa Nasir, Megan T. Baldridge, Stephanie M. Karst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Noroviruses are the leading cause of severe childhood diarrhea and foodborne disease worldwide. While they are a major cause of disease in all age groups, infections in the very young can be quite severe, with annual estimates of 50,000–200,000 fatalities in children under 5 years old. In spite of the remarkable disease burden associated with norovirus infections, very little is known about the pathogenic mechanisms underlying norovirus diarrhea, principally because of the lack of tractable small animal models. The development of the murine norovirus (MNV) model nearly two decades ago has facilitated progress in understanding host–norovirus interactions and norovirus strain variability. However, MNV strains tested thus far either do not cause intestinal disease or were isolated from extraintestinal tissue, raising concerns about translatability of research findings to human norovirus disease. Consequently, the field lacks a strong model of norovirus gastroenteritis. Here we provide a comprehensive characterization of a new small animal model system for the norovirus field that overcomes prior weaknesses. Specifically, we demonstrate that the WU23 MNV strain isolated from a mouse naturally presenting with diarrhea causes a transient reduction in weight gain and acute self-resolving diarrhea in neonatal mice of several inbred mouse lines. Moreover, our findings reveal that norovirus-induced diarrhea is associated with infection of subepithelial cells in the small intestine and systemic spread. Finally, type I interferons (IFNs) are critical to protect hosts from norovirus-induced intestinal disease whereas type III IFNs exacerbate diarrhea. This latter finding is consistent with other emerging data implicating type III IFNs in the exacerbation of some viral diseases. This new model system should enable a detailed investigation of norovirus disease mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalLab Animal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


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