Nonhuman Primates and Translational Research-Cardiovascular Disease

ILAR J. 2017 Dec 1;58(2):235-250. doi: 10.1093/ilar/ilx025.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Human epidemiological studies provide challenges for understanding mechanisms that regulate initiation and progression of CVD due to variation in lifestyle, diet, and other environmental factors. Studies describing metabolic and physiologic aspects of CVD, and those investigating genetic and epigenetic mechanisms influencing CVD initiation and progression, have been conducted in multiple Old World nonhuman primate (NHP) species. Major advantages of NHPs as models for understanding CVD are their genetic, metabolic, and physiologic similarities with humans, and the ability to control diet, environment, and breeding. These NHP species are also genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous, providing opportunities to study gene by environment interactions that are not feasible in inbred animal models. Each Old World NHP species included in this review brings unique strengths as models to better understand human CVD. All develop CVD without genetic manipulation providing multiple models to discover genetic variants that influence CVD risk. In addition, as each of these NHP species age, their age-related comorbidities such as dyslipidemia and diabetes are accelerated proportionally 3 to 4 times faster than in humans.In this review, we discuss current CVD-related research in NHPs focusing on selected aspects of CVD for which nonprimate model organism studies have left gaps in our understanding of human disease. We include studies on current knowledge of genetics, epigenetics, calorie restriction, maternal calorie restriction and offspring health, maternal obesity and offspring health, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and steatosis, Chagas disease, microbiome, stem cells, and prevention of CVD.

Keywords: Chagas disease; caloric restriction; epigenetics; genetics; maternal nutrition; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics*
  • Chagas Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Primates
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods*