Serum Cholesterol Level

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Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Likely Difference
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Total blood cholesterol values tend to be higher in captive chimpanzees than in normal humans, especially at earlier adult ages, but this result is not consistent across current colonies (1,2,3,5,6). It is unknown whether this is due to dietary differences in captivity, or other husbandry factors. Further data on high and low-density lipoproteins in chimpanzees may illuminate this variability (6). In current captive chimpanzees, the cardiac complications of the cholesterol-induced disease atherosclerosis (such as coronary thrombosis) are rare, whereas heart failure with interstitial myocardial fibrosis, but not ischemic necrosis is prevalent (5). While ischemic coronary disease was reported as common in colonies before 1980 (2), only few reports documented postmortem histopathology with myocardial necrosis (4). In view of these recent findings, it is possible that earlier studies misdiagnosed interstitial myocardial fibrosis as ischemic coronary disease. On the other hand, ischemic vascular strokes causing severe brain damage continue to occur in captive chimpanzees (7).

Related MOCA Topics


  1. Comparison of biomarkers of oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease in humans and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)., Videan, E. N., Heward C. B., Chowdhury K., Plummer J., Su Y., and Cutler R. G. , Comp Med, 06/2009, Volume 59, Issue 3, p.287-96, (2009)
  2. Heart disease is common in humans and chimpanzees, but is caused by different pathological processes, Varki, Nissi, Anderson Dan, Herndon James G., Pham Tho, Gregg Christopher J., Cheriyan Monica, Murphy James, Strobert Elizabeth, Fritz Jo, Else James G., et al. , Evol Appl, Volume 2, Issue 1, Number 1, p.101-112, (2009)
  3. Tauopathy with paired helical filaments in an aged chimpanzee., Rosen, Rebecca F., Farberg Aaron S., Gearing Marla, Dooyema Jeromy, Long Patrick M., Anderson Daniel C., Davis-Turak Jeremy, Coppola Giovanni, Geschwind Daniel H., Paré Jean-Francois, et al. , J Comp Neurol, 07/2008, Volume 509, Issue 3, p.259-70, (2008)
  4. Meat-adaptive genes and the evolution of slower aging in humans., Finch, C. E., and Stanford C. B. , Q Rev Biol, 03/2004, Volume 79, Issue 1, p.3-50, (2004)
  5. Normal hematologic and serum clinical chemistry values for captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)., Howell, S., Hoffman K., Bartel L., Schwandt M., Morris J., and Fritz J. , Comp Med, 08/2003, Volume 53, Issue 4, p.413-23, (2003)
  6. Coronary disease in the ape, Manning, G. , American Heart Journal, Volume 23, p.719-724, (1943)