Cole, M.F., Cantwell, A., Rukundo, J. Ajarova, L., Fernandez-Navarro, S., Atencia, R. & Rosati, A.G. (2020). Healthy cardiovascular biomarkers across the lifespan in wild-born chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 375: 20190609.[PDF] [Supplementary] [Publisher’s version] Abstract
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are a crucial model for understanding the evolution of human health and longevity. Cardiovascular disease is a major source of mortality during aging in humans and therefore a key issue for comparative research. Current data indicates that compared to humans, chimpanzees have proatherogenic blood lipid profiles, an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease in humans. However, most work to date on chimpanzee lipids come from laboratory-living populations where lifestyles diverge from a wild context. Here we examined cardiovascular profiles in chimpanzees living in African sanctuaries, who semi-free-range in large forested enclosures, consume a naturalistic diet, and generally experience conditions more similar to a wild chimpanzee lifestyle. We measured blood lipids, body weight, and body fat in 75 sanctuary chimpanzees and compared them to publicly-available data from laboratory-living chimpanzees from the Primate Aging Database. We found that semi-free-ranging chimpanzees exhibited lower body weight and lower levels of lipids that are risk factors for human cardiovascular disease, and that some of these disparities increased with age. Our findings support the hypothesis that lifestyle can shape health indices in chimpanzees, similar to effects observed across human populations, and contribute to an emerging understanding of human cardiovascular health in evolutionary context.