A primer of primate pathology: Lesions and nonlesions

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76 Scopus citations


Nonhuman primates are important laboratory animals for biomedical, pharmacology, and toxicology research. To effectively use primates as models, their gross and histologic anatomy, physiology and natural history, as well as common health problems and the source from which the primate is obtained, must be known and understood by pathologists involved in study design and/or interpretation. The first very important lesson in the "primer" is: there is no such thing as a generic monkey. Brand names (ie, species and subspecies) are important. Several taxonomic groups of primates are used in research including: prosimians, such as galagos and lemurs; New World monkeys, particularily marmosets; Old World monkeys, especially macaques and baboons; and the chimpanzee, an African ape. Differences between taxa are exemplified by the glucocorticoid resistance of New World monkeys compared to Old World monkeys, which results in the requirement for Vitamin D3 and their high circulating levels of steroids such as cortisone and progesterone. Differences in ovarian histology between Old and New World monkeys probably relate to steroid receptor biology as well. There are also variations in disease manifestations, even among closely related primate species such as rhesus and cynomolgus macaques (cynos). For example type D retrovirus infection is accompanied by lymphomas in cynos, but not rhesus. The second important lesson in this "primer" is: "not test article related" does not always mean "normal." Lymphoid nodules in bone marrow or salivary gland, a common background finding in macaques, often signal the presence of type D retrovirus. Other histologic changes and normal anatomic variations may be confusing to individuals not routinely examining primate tissues. The objective of this paper is to familiarize pathologists with the use of primates in research as well as lesions and nonlesions (normal anatomy or physiology) of primates that may influence study design and confound interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
JournalToxicologic Pathology
Issue numberSUPPL.
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Anatomy
  • Animal models
  • Confounding factors
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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