The nonhuman primate as a model of developmental immunotoxicity

Andrew G Hendrickx, N. Makori, P. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Macaques are well suited for preclinical testing of biopharmaceutics due to reproductive and developmental similarities with humans. In order to characterize ontogeny of the immune system in this model, we studied lymphocyte and antigen-presenting cell populations in developing lymphoid tissues of rhesus macaque fetuses during the second and third trimesters [gestation days (GD) 75-145, term 165 days]. Systemic lymphoid tissues (thymus, spleen and lymph nodes, and intestinal tissue) were examined for morphology and cell surface markers by immunohistochemistry. Lymphocytes were further characterized by flow cytometry for differentiation markers. Splenic tissue from early second trimester fetuses was populated mainly by CD20+ B cells while the thymus contained large numbers of CD3+ T cells. In the late second trimester (day 80), approximately equal populations of B and T cells were present in both tissues and numerous dendritic cells (p55+) were present in the intestinal lamina propria. By the second trimester, the rhesus macaque fetal lymphoid system is well developed. Analysis of lymphoid organs from retinoic acid-treated fetuses indicated that the T-cell (thymus)-dependent compartment of the spleen white pulp in specimens with thymic aplasia showed a reduction in size and proportion of CD3+ T cells compared to controls. Our findings indicate that RA-induced thymic defects result in disrupted development of the splenic T-cell-dependent compartment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-542
Number of pages6
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • B- and T lymphocytes
  • Nonhuman primate
  • Retinoic acid
  • Safety assessment
  • Spleen
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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