Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a biosafety level (BSL)-3 pathogen. Pseudotyped viruses have been widely used for in vitro evaluation because they are available in BSL-2 containment laboratories. However, in vivo application is inadequate.
Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a biosafety level (BSL)-3 pathogen; therefore, its research environment is strictly limited. Pseudotyped viruses that mimic SARS-CoV-2 have been widely used for in vitro evaluation because they are available in BSL-2 containment laboratories; however, in vivo application is inadequate. Therefore, animal models that can be instigated with animal BSL-2 will increase opportunities for in vivo evaluations. Methods: Hamsters (6- to 10-week-old males) were intratracheally inoculated with luciferase-expressing vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-based SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus. The lungs were harvested 24 h after inoculation, and luminescence was measured using an in vivo imaging system. Results: Lung luminescence after inoculation with the SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus increased in a dose-dependent manner. VSV-G (envelope [G]) pseudotyped virus also induced luminescence; however, a 100-fold concentration was required to reach a level similar to that of the SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus. Conclusions: The SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus is applicable to SARS-CoV-2 respiratory infections in a hamster model. Because of the single-round infectious virus, the model can be used to study the steps from viral binding to entry, which will be useful for future research regarding SARS-CoV-2 entry without using live SARS-CoV-2 or transgenic animals.