Nonhuman primates: Their role in assessing developmental effects of immunomodulatory agents

Andrew G Hendrickx, N. Makori, P. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


There are close physiologic similarities between humans and macaques that make them well suited for preclinical testing of biopharmaceutics. These include menstrual cycles of similar length and hormonal control, comparable cellular and endocrine processes of implantation, and similar timetables of prenatal development. Three teratogenic agents have induced abnormal development of the macaque thymus that is a key organ in the development of the fetal immune system. Embryonic exposure to triamcinolone acetonide, a potent corticosteroid, during critical periods of thymus development caused marked hypoplasia, depletion of thymic lymphocytes, and reduction of epithelial elements. Aplasia and hypoplasia of the thymus were a distinct feature of the 'retinoid syndrome' in cynomolgus macaques following exposure to 13-cis-retinoic acid (Accutane) in early pregnancy, the time of neural crest migration. Experimentally induced zinc deficiency in rhesus macaques from conception to 1-year of age caused severe alterations in immunocompetence. More recent studies have shown that the levels of IgG and IgA in cervicovaginal lavages of the rhesus macaque exhibit specific temporal patterns during the normal menstrual cycle. Taken together, theses data suggest that several macaque species are appropriate animal models for preclinical safety assessment of immunomodulatory drugs. Current teratology protocols in these models may require slight modifications to adequately assess the safety of these biologics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Biopharmaceutics
  • Fetus
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Macaque
  • Reproduction
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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