Macaque models of human infectious disease

Murray B. Gardner, Paul A Luciw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Macaques have served as models for more than 70 human infectious diseases of diverse etiologies, including a multitude of agents - bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, prions. The remarkable diversity of human infectious diseases that have been modeled in the macaque includes global, childhood, and tropical diseases as well as newly emergent, sexually transmitted, oncogenic, degenerative neurologic, potential bioterrorism, and miscellaneous other diseases. Historically, macaques played a major role in establishing the etiology of yellow fever, polio, and prion diseases. With rare exceptions (Chagas disease, bartonellosis), all of the infectious diseases in this review are of Old World origin. Perhaps most surprising is the large number of tropical (16), newly emergent (7), and bioterrorism diseases (9) that have been modeled in macaques. Many of these human diseases (e.g., AIDS, hepatitis E, bartonellosis) are a consequence of zoonotic infection. However, infectious agents of certain diseases, including measles and tuberculosis, can sometimes go both ways, and thus several human pathogens are threats to nonhuman primates including macaques. Through experimental studies in macaques, researchers have gained insight into pathogenic mechanisms and novel treatment and vaccine approaches for many human infectious diseases, most notably acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is caused by infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Other infectious agents for which macaques have been a uniquely valuable resource for biomedical research, and particularly vaccinology, include influenza virus, paramyxoviruses, flaviviruses, arenaviruses, hepatitis E virus, papillomavirus, smallpox virus, Mycobacteria, Bacillus anthracis, Helicobacter pylori, Yersinia pestis, and Plasmodium species. This review summarizes the extensive past and present research on macaque models of human infectious disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-255
Number of pages36
JournalILAR Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Comparative medicine
  • Human pathogens
  • Infectious disease
  • Macaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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