Syrian hamsters as a small animal model for SARS-CoV-2 infection and countermeasure development

Masaki Imai, Kiyoko Iwatsuki-Horimoto, Masato Hatta, Samantha Loeber, Peter J. Halfmann, Noriko Nakajima, Tokiko Watanabe, Michiko Ujie, Kenta Takahashi, Mutsumi Ito, Shinya Yamada, Shufang Fan, Shiho Chiba, Makoto Kuroda, Lizheng Guan, Kosuke Takada, Tammy Armbrust, Aaron Balogh, Yuri Furusawa, Moe OkudaHiroshi Ueki, Atsuhiro Yasuhara, Yuko Sakai-Tagawa, Tiago J.S. Lopes, Maki Kiso, Seiya Yamayoshi, Noriko Kinoshita, Norio Ohmagari, Shin Ichiro Hattori, Makoto Takeda, Hiroaki Mitsuya, Florian Krammer, Tadaki Suzuki, Yoshihiro Kawaoka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

582 Scopus citations


At the end of 2019, a novel coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; SARS-CoV-2) was detected in Wuhan, China, that spread rapidly around the world, with severe consequences for human health and the global economy. Here, we assessed the replicative ability and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 isolates in Syrian hamsters. SARS-CoV-2 isolates replicated efficiently in the lungs of hamsters, causing severe pathological lung lesions following intranasal infection. In addition, microcomputed tomographic imaging revealed severe lung injury that shared characteristics with SARS-CoV-2-infected human lung, including severe, bilateral, peripherally distributed, multilobular ground glass opacity, and regions of lung consolidation. SARS-CoV-2-infected hamsters mounted neutralizing antibody responses and were protected against subsequent rechallenge with SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, passive transfer of convalescent serum to naïve hamsters efficiently suppressed the replication of the virus in the lungs even when the serum was administrated 2 d postinfection of the serum-treated hamsters. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that this Syrian hamster model will be useful for understanding SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis and testing vaccines and antiviral drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16587-16595
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - 14 Jul 2020


  • Countermeasure
  • Infection
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Syrian hamsters


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