Non-human primate models of PD to test novel therapies

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2018 Mar;125(3):291-324. doi: 10.1007/s00702-017-1722-y. Epub 2017 Apr 8.


Non-human primate (NHP) models of Parkinson disease show many similarities with the human disease. They are very useful to test novel pharmacotherapies as reviewed here. The various NHP models of this disease are described with their characteristics including the macaque, the marmoset, and the squirrel monkey models. Lesion-induced and genetic models are described. There is no drug to slow, delay, stop, or cure Parkinson disease; available treatments are symptomatic. The dopamine precursor, L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-Dopa) still remains the gold standard symptomatic treatment of Parkinson. However, involuntary movements termed L-Dopa-induced dyskinesias appear in most patients after chronic treatment and may become disabling. Dyskinesias are very difficult to manage and there is only amantadine approved providing only a modest benefit. In this respect, NHP models have been useful to seek new drug targets, since they reproduce motor complications observed in parkinsonian patients. Therapies to treat motor symptoms in NHP models are reviewed with a discussion of their translational value to humans. Disease-modifying treatments tested in NHP are reviewed as well as surgical treatments. Many biochemical changes in the brain of post-mortem Parkinson disease patients with dyskinesias are reviewed and compare well with those observed in NHP models. Non-motor symptoms can be categorized into psychiatric, autonomic, and sensory symptoms. These symptoms are present in most parkinsonian patients and are already installed many years before the pre-motor phase of the disease. The translational usefulness of NHP models of Parkinson is discussed for non-motor symptoms.

Keywords: Dyskinesia; Levodopa; MPTP; Non-human primate; Parkinson; Pharmacotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / therapy*


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa