Influenza Viruses Suitable for Studies in Syrian Hamsters

Several small animal models, including mice, Syrian hamsters, guinea pigs, and ferrets are used to study the pathogenicity, transmissibility, and antigenicity of seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses. Moreover, animal models are essential for vaccination and challenge studies to evaluate the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of new vaccines. However, authentic human influenza viruses do not always replicate efficiently in these animal models. Previously, we developed a high-yield A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (PR8-HY) vaccine virus backbone that conferred an increased virus yield to several seasonal influenza vaccines in eukaryotic cells and embryonated chicken eggs. Here, we show that this PR8-HY genetic backbone also increases the replication of several seasonal influenza viruses in Syrian hamsters compared to the authentic viruses. Therefore, the PR8-HY backbone is useful for animal studies to assess the biological properties of influenza viral HA and NA.