PhD Scientific Days 2023

Budapest, 22-23 June 2023

Translational Medicine - Posters O

Investigating the Systemic Effects of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Golden Syrian Hamsters

1. Polett Hajdrik - Semmelweis University, Department of Biophysics and Radiation Biology, Budapest, Hungary
2. Bernadett Pályi - National Public Health Centre, National Biosafety Laboratory, Budapest, Hungary
3. Zoltán Kis, Dr. - National Public Health Centre, National Biosafety Laboratory, Budapest, Hungary
4. Ildikó Horváth - Semmelweis University, Department of Biophysics and Radiation Biology, Budapest, Hungary
5. Ralf Bergmann, Dr. - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), Institute of Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research, Dresden, Germany
Semmelweis University, Department of Biophysics and Radiation Biology, Budapest, Hungary
6. Krisztián Szigeti, Dr. - Semmelweis University, Department of Biophysics and Radiation Biology, Budapest, Hungary
7. Máthé Domokos Dr. - Semmelweis University, Department of Biophysics and Radiation Biology, Budapest, Hungary
Hungarian Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine, Szeged, Hungary

Text of the abstract

To better understand Covid-19 disease, the use of animal models is absolutely necessary. It is equally important in preclinical testing of vaccines and active pharmaceutical ingredients, as well as therapeutic options.
The currently most applied non-trasngeneic models of SARS-CoV-2 viral infection are golden syrian hamsters. Studies have found that Syrian hamster ACE2 is highly homologous to human ACE2 in the predicted ACE2-RBD interface and it binds efficiently to SARS-CoV-2 RBD. SARS-CoV-2 replicates to high titers in the endothelial and central nervous system, the intestinal and respiratory tract of hamsters. Clinical symptoms of infection are similar to humans, but they (eg.lung pathology, caridac-, endothel-, gastrointestinal and brain involvement) are non-lethal in these animals.
This creates a good opportunity for extensive investigations such as examination of different virus variants, long-term effects of the infection or autoimmunity effects.
The aim of our work was to investigate the biodistribution and inflammatory effects of SARS-CoV-2 virions in golden syrian hamsters. We used different in vivo imaging tools (PET-MRI,PET-CT) and histological methods (RNA-scope). In order to carry out further tests with different antiviral agents, we had to extensively explore the effects and biodistribution of the virus in the animals.
We infected n=6 hamsters, and we imaged the systemic inflammation 3/5/7 days after infection with 18F-FDG PET/MRI/CT. We then dissected the animals and histologically reviewed different tissues, with particular emphasis on brain areas.
The lung, gastrointestinal, adrenal and pancreatic lesions were clearly visible on the PET/MRI pictures.
We observed ground glass opacities and consolidating alveloar damage (when the lungs become densely fibrinized). The presence of the active virus in the brain was confirmed by the in situ viral mRNA replicon hybridization.
In conclusion, the results show that the disease is also systemic in hamsters, influenced the brain regions, gastrointestinal tract and the cardiovascular system. These measurements make it possible to examine the systemic effects of different antiviral agents later on.