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Evaluation of K18-hACE2 mice as a model of SARS-CoV-2 infection

By G. Brett Moreau, Stacey L. Burgess, Jeffrey Michael Sturek, Alexandra N Donlan, William A Petri, Barbara J. Mann

Posted 26 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.26.171033 (published DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.20-0762)

Murine models of SARS-CoV-2 infection are critical for elucidating the biological pathways underlying COVID-19 disease. Because human ACE2 is the receptor for SARS-CoV-2, mice expressing the human ACE2 gene have shown promise as a potential model for COVID-19. Five mice from the transgenic mouse strain K18-hACE2 were intranasally inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 Hong Kong/VM20001061/2020. Mice were followed twice daily for five days and scored for weight loss and clinical symptoms. Infected mice did not exhibit any signs of infection until day four, when weight loss, but no other obvious clinical symptoms were observed. By day five all infected mice had lost around 10% of their original body weight, but exhibited variable clinical symptoms. All infected mice showed high viral titers in the lungs as well as altered lung histology associated with immune cell infiltration and alveolar septal thickening. Overall, these results show that symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection can be established in the K18-hACE2 transgenic background and this mouse strain should be a useful for COVID-19 disease. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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