Animal models of neurologic disorders: a nonhuman primate model of spinal cord injury

Neurotherapeutics. 2012 Apr;9(2):380-92. doi: 10.1007/s13311-012-0114-0.


Primates are an important and unique animal resource. We have developed a nonhuman primate model of spinal cord injury (SCI) to expand our knowledge of normal primate motor function, to assess the impact of disease and injury on sensory and motor function, and to test candidate therapies before they are applied to human patients. The lesion model consists of a lateral spinal cord hemisection at the C7 spinal level with subsequent examination of behavioral, electrophysiological, and anatomical outcomes. Results to date have revealed significant neuroanatomical and functional differences between rodents and primates that impact the development of candidate therapies. Moreover, these findings suggest the importance of testing some therapeutic approaches in nonhuman primates prior to the use of invasive approaches in human clinical trials. Our primate model is intended to: 1) lend greater positive predictive value to human translatable therapies, 2) develop appropriate methods for human translation, 3) lead to basic discoveries that might not be identified in rodent models and are relevant to human translation, and 4) identify new avenues of basic research to "reverse-translate" important questions back to rodent models.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Primates
  • Species Specificity
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / genetics
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy