Dietary restriction and aging in rhesus monkeys: the University of Wisconsin study

Exp Gerontol. 2000 Dec;35(9-10):1131-49. doi: 10.1016/s0531-5565(00)00166-2.


Dietary restriction (DR) retards aging and extends the maximum lifespan of laboratory mice and rats. To determine whether DR has similar actions in a primate species, we initiated a study in 1989 to investigate the effects of a 30% DR in 30 adult male rhesus monkeys. In 1994, an additional 30 females and 16 males were added to the study. Although the animals are still middle-aged, a few differences have developed between the control and DR animals suggesting that DR may induce physiologic changes in the rhesus monkey similar to those observed in rodents. Fasting basal insulin and glucose concentrations are lower in DR compared to control animals while insulin sensitivity is higher in the restricted animals. DR has also altered circulating LDL in a manner that may inhibit atherogenesis. These results suggest that DR may be slowing some age-related physiologic changes. In addition to measures of glucose and lipid metabolism, the animals are evaluated annually for body composition, energy expenditure, physical activity, hematologic indices, and blood or urinary hormone concentrations. In the next few years, the first animals will reach the average lifespan ( approximately 26 years) of captive rhesus monkeys and it will become possible to determine if DR retards the aging process and extends the lifespan in a primate species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Bone Density
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Diet*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Leptin / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Melatonin / urine
  • Physical Exertion
  • Time Factors
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Leptin
  • Lipids
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Melatonin
  • Hydrocortisone