Both rhesus and cynomolgus macaques have been used as animal models for measles I vaccination and immunopathogenesis studies. A number of studies have suggested that experimental measles virus (MV) infection induces more-characteristic clinical features in rhesus than in cynomolgus monkeys. In the present study, both macaque species were infected with two different wild-type MV strains and clinical, virological and immunological parameters were compared. The viruses used were a genotype C2 virus isolated in The Netherlands in 1991 (MV-Bil) and a genotype B3 virus isolated from a severe measles case in Sudan in 1997 (MV-Sudan). Following infection, all rhesus monkeys developed a skin rash and conjunctivitis, which were less obvious in cynomolgus monkeys. Fever was either mild or absent in both species. Virus reisolation profiles from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and broncho-alveolar lavage cells and the kinetics of MV-specific IgM and IgG responses were largely identical in the two animal species. However, in animals infected with MV-Sudan, viraemia appeared earlier and lasted longer than in animals infected with MV-Bil. This was also reflected by the earlier appearance of MV-specific serum IgM antibodies after infection with MV-Sudan. Collectively, these data show that cynomolgus and rhesus macaques are equally susceptible to wild-type MV infection, although infection in the skin seems to follow a different course in rhesus macaques. MV-Sudan proved more pathogenic for non-human primates than MV-Bil, which may render it more suitable for use in future pathogenesis studies.

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Mubarak, H.S, Yüksel, S, van Amerongen, G, Mulder, P.G.H, Mukhtar, M.M, Osterhaus, A.D.M.E, & de Swart, R.L. (2007). Infection of cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) with different wild-type measles viruses. Journal of General Virology, 88(7), 2028–2034. doi:10.1099/vir.0.82804-0