Aotus monkeys: their great value for anti-malaria vaccines and drug testing

Int J Parasitol. 2002 Dec 4;32(13):1625-35. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(02)00191-1.


Non-human primates represent a valuable resource for testing potential vaccines candidates and drugs for human use. Malaria remains one of the greatest burdens for the humanity represented by approximately 500 million new clinical cases per year worldwide and at least two million deaths caused annually. Additional control measures such as vaccines and new anti-malarial compounds are therefore urgently needed. Safety and protective efficacy studies in animal models are critical steps for vaccines and drugs development and primate models are probably the most appropriate for this purpose. Although Aotus genus provides several species susceptible to both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, having different susceptibility to malaria, Aotus lemurinus griseimembra represents the best current malaria primate model because of its high susceptibility to infection by blood forms and sporozoites of both species of Plasmodium. Although the ultimate validation of this model depends upon human trials, over the past two decades these monkeys have proved very useful to test multiple malaria vaccine candidates prior to trials in humans. A good correlation between the B- and T-cell epitopes recognised by humans and by immunised monkeys has been documented, and cross reactivity between reagents for human and Aotus cytokines and lymphocyte markers have been identified and are facilitating the selection of vaccine candidates for clinical trials. Aotus also represents a good model for the screening of anti-malarial drugs and the understanding of malaria pathogenesis as well. In view of the decreasing availability of these primates, breeding programs and biomedical research facilities must be improved in countries of primate origin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use*
  • Aotus trivirgatus / parasitology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Malaria / drug therapy
  • Malaria / prevention & control*
  • Malaria Vaccines*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology


  • Antimalarials
  • Malaria Vaccines