Nonhuman primates: A vital model for basic and applied research on female reproduction, prenatal development, and women's health

Richard L. Stouffer, Teresa K. Woodruff

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Scopus citations


    The comparative biology of reproduction and development in mammalian species is remarkable. Hence, because of similarities in environmental and neuroendocrine control of the reproductive axis, the cyclic function of the ovary and reproductive tract, establishment and control of the maternal-fetal-placental unit during pregnancy, and reproductive aging from puberty through menopause, nonhuman primates (NHPs) are valuable models for research related to women's reproductive health and its disorders. This chapter provides examples of research over the past 10+ years using Old World monkeys (notably macaque species), baboons, and to a lesser extent New World monkeys (especially marmosets) that contributed to our understanding of the etiology and therapies or prevention of: (1) ovarian disorders, e.g., polycystic ovary syndrome, mitochondrial DNA-based diseases from the oocyte; (2) uterine disorders, for example, endometriosis and uterine transplantation; and (3) pregnancy disorders, for example, preterm labor and delivery, environmental factors. Also, emerging opportunities such as viral (e.g., Zika) induced fetal defects and germline genomic editing to generate valuable primate models of human diseases (e.g., Huntington and muscular dystrophy) are addressed. Although the high costs, specialized resources, and ethical debate challenge the use of primates in biomedical research, their inclusion in fertility and infertility research is vital for continued improvements in women's reproductive health.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)281-294
    Number of pages14
    JournalILAR Journal
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


    • Contraception
    • Endometriosis
    • Germline genome editing
    • Infertility
    • Mitochondrial DNA-based diseases
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Preterm labor and delivery
    • Uterine transplantation
    • Zika virus-induced fetal defects

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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