Yellow fever 17-D vaccine is neurotropic and produces encephalitis in immunosuppressed hamsters

Rosa I. Mateo, Shu Yuan Xiao, Amelia P.A. Travassos Da Rosa, Hao Lei, Hilda Guzman, Liang Lu, Robert B. Tesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Immunosuppressed (cyclophosphamide) adult golden hamsters inoculated intraperitoneally (IP) with wild-type Asibi yellow fever virus (YFV) developed a rapidly fatal illness. Histopathologic and immunohistochemical studies of tissues from these animals showed typical hepatic changes of severe yellow fever (inflammation, hepatocyte necrosis, and steatosis) without brain involvement. In contrast, 50% of immunosuppressed hamsters receiving the YFV-17D-attenuated vaccine developed a slowly progressive encephalitic-type illness. Brain tissue from these latter animals revealed focal neuronal changes, inflammation, and YFV antigen-positive neurons; however, the liver and spleen appeared normal. YFV was isolated from brain cultures of many of these animals. Immunocompetent (non-immunosuppressed) hamsters inoculated with both viruses developed a subclinical infection. Results of this study indicate that wild-type YFV is hepatotropic in immunosuppressed hamsters, whereas the attenuated YFV-17 is primarily neurotropic. These findings support current recommendations against yellow fever vaccination of immunosuppressed/immunocompromised people and suggest that this hamster model might be useful for monitoring the safety of other live-attenuated YFV vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-924
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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