A model of salicylate intoxication was developed in ferrets to permit the evaluation of the interaction with viruses isolated from patients with Reye's syndrome. Salicylate intoxication produced mild elevation of the serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase and fatty changes in the liver, but these changes differed from those seen in Reye's syndrome on light and electron microscopy. Salicylates were associated with decreased activity of hepatic phosphorylase and a slight depression of activity of ornithine transcarbamylase, a mitochondrial urea cycle enzyme. Infection with influenza viruses produced mild fatty changes in the liver, but did not significantly potentiate the effects of salicylate intoxication on the over-all mortality, the degree of fatty changes, or the hepatic enzymes. Influenza infection alone was not associated with decreased hepatic phosphorylase activity, but was associated with decreased activity of ornithine transcarbamylase. Influenza A was isolated from the livers of two of four animals cultured in embryonated eggs.Speculation
Because of its susceptibility to human influenza viruses, the ferret provides an animal model to evaluate potential toxic cofactors in the production of Reye's syndrome.