Nonhuman Primates in Research on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies

  • David M. AsherEmail author
  • Pedro Piccardo
  • Luisa Gregori
Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 129)


Nonhuman primates played an important role in early studies of the human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs): kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and similar degenerative diseases of the nervous system. The high cost of procuring and maintaining nonhuman primates and growing public resistance have discouraged their use for TSE research in recent years. Invasive research with chimpanzees has effectively ended in the USA. A few situations remain, however, in which laboratory primates offer advantages for biomedical research on TSEs: (1) transmission attempts when etiology and host range of a human disease are not yet known or when more accessible tests to detect an infectious agent are either unavailable or not feasible; (2) studies of pathogenesis using monkeys instead of rodents may be more directly relevant to a human TSE; and (3) preparation of certain biological reference materials, such as blood or tissues infected with a human-derived TSE agent, might require a species of animal genetically close to humans because of antigenically similar prion proteins.

Key words

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) Prion Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) Monkey Macaque Chimpanzee Squirrel monkey Pathogenesis Biological reference material 



The authors are grateful to Lewis Shankel, Steven Harbaugh, Anthony Cook, F. Salih Muhammad, Jill Ascher, and John Dennis for expert care of monkeys, and Oksana Yakovleva and Juraj Cervenak for carefully preparing the Western immunoblot and histological sections. Arifa Khan read the manuscript critically and offered helpful suggestions. We owe special thanks to the late Kitty L. Pomeroy for her many years of dedicated technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Asher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pedro Piccardo
    • 1
  • Luisa Gregori
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Bacterial and Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Agents, Division of Emerging and Transfusion-Transmitted DiseasesOffice of Blood Research and Review, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, United States Food and Drug AdministrationSilver SpringUSA

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