Nonhuman primate models of respiratory disease: Past, present, and future

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16 Scopus citations


The respiratory system consists of an integrated network of organs and structures that primarily function for gas exchange. In mammals, oxygen and carbon dioxide are transmitted through a complex respiratory tract, consisting of the nasal passages, pharynx, larynx, and lung. Exposure to ambient air throughout the lifespan imposes vulnerability of the respiratory system to environmental challenges that can contribute toward development of disease. The importance of the respiratory system to human health is supported by statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; in 2015, chronic lower respiratory diseases were the third leading cause of death in the United States. In light of the significant mortality associated with respiratory conditions that afflict all ages of the human population, this review will focus on basic and preclinical research conducted in nonhuman primate models of respiratory disease. In comparison with other laboratory animals, the nonhuman primate lung most closely resembles the human lung in structure, physiology, and mucosal immune mechanisms. Studies defining the influence of inhaled microbes, pollutants, or allergens on the nonhuman primate lung have provided insight on disease pathogenesis, with the potential for elucidation of molecular targets leading to new treatment modalities. Vaccine trials in nonhuman primates have been crucial for confirmation of safety and protective efficacy against infectious diseases of the lung in a laboratory animal model that recapitulates pathology observed in humans. In looking to the future, nonhuman primate models of respiratory diseases will continue to be instrumental for translating biomedical research for improvement of human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-280
Number of pages12
JournalILAR Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Infectious disease
  • Inhalation
  • Lung
  • Nonhuman primate
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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