Acute Respiratory Distress in Aged, SARS-CoV-2–Infected African Green Monkeys but Not Rhesus Macaques

Robert V. Blair, Monica Vaccari, Lara A. Doyle-Meyers, Chad J. Roy, Kasi Russell-Lodrigue, Marissa Fahlberg, Chris J. Monjure, Brandon Beddingfield, Kenneth S. Plante, Jessica A. Plante, Scott C. Weaver, Xuebin Qin, Cecily C. Midkiff, Gabrielle Lehmicke, Nadia Golden, Breanna Threeton, Toni Penney, Carolina Allers, Mary B. Barnes, Melissa PattisonPrasun K. Datta, Nicholas J. Maness, Angela Birnbaum, Tracy Fischer, Rudolf P. Bohm, Jay Rappaport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) induces a wide range of disease severity, ranging from asymptomatic infection to a life-threating illness, particularly in the elderly population and individuals with comorbid conditions. Among individuals with serious coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a common and often fatal presentation. Animal models of SARS-CoV-2 infection that manifest severe disease are needed to investigate the pathogenesis of COVID-19–induced ARDS and evaluate therapeutic strategies. We report two cases of ARDS in two aged African green monkeys (AGMs) infected with SARS-CoV-2 that had pathological lesions and disease similar to severe COVID-19 in humans. We also report a comparatively mild COVID-19 phenotype characterized by minor clinical, radiographic, and histopathologic changes in the two surviving, aged AGMs and four rhesus macaques (RMs) infected with SARS-CoV-2. Notable increases in circulating cytokines were observed in three of four infected, aged AGMs but not in infected RMs. All the AGMs had increased levels of plasma IL-6 compared with baseline, a predictive marker and presumptive therapeutic target in humans infected with SARS-CoV-2. Together, our results indicate that both RMs and AGMs are capable of modeling SARS-CoV-2 infection and suggest that aged AGMs may be useful for modeling severe disease manifestations, including ARDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-282
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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