Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Experimental infection of Balb/c nude mice with Hepatitis E virus

Fen Huang, Wen Zhang, Ga Gong, Congli Yuan, Yijia Yan, Shixing Yang, Li Cui, Jianguo Zhu, Zhibiao Yang and Xiuguo Hua*

  • * Corresponding author: Xiuguo Hua

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

Shanghai Key laboratory of Veterinary Biotechnology, School of Agriculture and Biology, Shanghai JiaoTong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai 200240, PR China

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:93  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-93

Published: 13 June 2009



Several animal species can reportedly act as reservoirs for Hepatitis E virus (HEV), a zoonotic pathogen. HEV and antibody to the virus have been detected in a variety of animals including rodents. Pig and rat models for HEV have been established for HEV, but a nude mouse has not yet been developed.


Balb/c nude mice were inoculated with swine HEV, both orally and via intravenous injection to insure infection. Negative control and experimental contact-exposed groups of mice were also included in the study. The liver, spleen, kidney, jejunum, ileum, cecum and colon of each mouse from all three groups were collected for reverse transcription nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nPCR) detection, indirect immunofluorescence observation and histopathologic examination. The sera from nude mice were tested for anti-HEV IgG by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Activities of liver enzymes, including alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP), as well as total bilirubin (TBIL) were also measured in the sera of the nude mice.


HEV antigens and HEV RNA were detected in liver, spleen, kidney, jejunum, ileum and colon both by indirect immunofluorescence and by RT-nPCR in all of the inoculated and in one of the contact-exposed nude mice. Histopathological changes were observed in the liver and spleen of these mice. Infected mice showed increased levels of AST, ALP, and anti-HEV IgG in sera. The livers of contact-exposed mice showed obvious histopathological damage.


Nude mice could be readily infected by HEV isolated from pigs. The nude mouse may therefore be a useful animal model for studying the pathogenesis of HEV.