The cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis) is the best animal model for the study of steroid glucuronidation

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 Jun;85(2-5):235-45. doi: 10.1016/s0960-0760(03)00235-8.


Intense research efforts performed during the past decade clearly established the major role of glucuronidation and uridine-diphospho-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes for steroid metabolism in humans. However, a clear understanding of the physiological importance of this metabolic process requires in vivo studies. Numerous evidences ascertain that simians are the most appropriate animal models for such studies. Indeed human and monkey have a similar pattern of steroidogenesis, unlike common laboratory mammals such as rat or mouse. Furthermore, human and monkey are unique in having high levels of circulating androsterone glucuronide and androstane-3alpha-diol glucuronide (3alpha-Diol-G). In addition, characterization of eight monkey UGT proteins demonstrated the similarity of their conjugation activity toward steroid hormones. Like human ones, monkey enzymes are expressed in steroid target tissues, where they preferentially glucuronidate androgen and estrogen metabolites. In monkey tissues, immunohistochemical studies demonstrated that UGT2B proteins are expressed in a cell-type specific manner in ovary and kidney, where they control androgens and aldosterone inactivation. These results identify the cynomolgus monkey as an appropriate animal model for the determination of cellular localization of UGT enzymes in steroid target tissues and for the identification of endogenous or exogenous stimuli affecting steroid glucuronidation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Models, Animal
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phylogeny
  • Rabbits
  • Steroids / metabolism*


  • Hormones
  • Steroids
  • Glucuronosyltransferase