Summary and Assessment of Studies on Cardiac Aging in Nonhuman Primates

Hillary F. Huber, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Geoffrey D. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nonhuman primates (NHP) are important translational models for cardiac aging. To assess progress in this research area and to provide a reference for other investigators, we identified papers indexed in PubMed to determine what species, ages, outcomes, treatments, and approaches have been studied. Since 1983, 33 studies of cardiac aging in NHP have been published. Of these, 27 used species of macaque, 6 baboon, 1 vervet, 1 orangutan, and 1 marmoset (some studies were multispecies). Common research approaches were echocardiography, ECG, and histology of the left ventricle. Only 10 studies performed sex-based analyses. The average age of the oldest macaque studied was 26 y. The reported mean lifespan of macaques in captivity is around 30 y. The age of the oldest baboon studied was 24 y. Baboons in captivity are reported to live on average to 21 y. Twelve studies took a “life course” approach, studying animals of a wide range of ages from less than or equal to 10 y through the late teens to thirties, and employing analyses designed to show change over time. Keeping NHP into old age is a major challenge for biomedical research. The ideal design is to start monitoring in early life and to track how cardiac structure and function change with age. Important issues for future research are an increased focus on life-course approaches, investment in existing life-course NHP cohorts, better reporting of study sample characteristics, more molecular studies to identify genetic risk factors and mechanisms, attention to sex as a biological variable, a move away from descriptive reports to mechanistic studies, development of biomarkers to predict disease risk, and exploration of interventions that are implemented early in life to prevent or delay age-related disease later in life. Reducing exposure to early life adversity, identifying early-life biomarkers of aging and age-related disease, and early treatment can contribute to longer health span.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-465
Number of pages6
JournalComparative medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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