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Author Notes:

Nissi Varki, Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0687, USA. Tel.: 858-534-2214; fax: 858-534-5611; e-mail: nvarki@ucsd.edu

The authors wish to thank the numerous dedicated workers who cared for these great apes over their lifetimes, and assisted in the collection of necropsy tissues.

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Research Funding:

This work was supported by NIH grants to A.V. and N.V. (R01GM32373 and R01CA38701), to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (RR00165), and to the Primate Foundation of Arizona (2 U42 RR15090-07).

We also acknowledge general support from the Mathers Foundation of New York.

Keywords:

  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • atherosclerosis
  • evolution
  • great ape
  • heart attacks
  • heart disease
  • heart failure
  • hominids
  • myocardial fibrosis
  • SUDDEN CARDIAC DEATH
  • CORONARY-ARTERY-DISEASE
  • PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • MYOCARDIAL-INFARCTION
  • CAPTIVE CHIMPANZEES
  • SIALIC-ACID
  • METABOLIC SYNDROME
  • BLOOD-PRESSURE
  • SALT INTAKE
  • ATHEROSCLEROSIS

Heart disease is common in humans and chimpanzees, but is caused by different pathological processes

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Journal Title:

Evolutionary Applications

Volume:

Volume 2, Number 1

Publisher:

, Pages 101-112

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF

Abstract:

Heart disease is common in both humans and chimpanzees, manifesting typically as sudden cardiac arrest or progressive heart failure. Surprisingly, although chimpanzees are our closest evolutionary relatives, the major cause of heart disease is different in the two species. Histopathology data of affected chimpanzee hearts from two primate centers, and analysis of literature indicate that sudden death in chimpanzees (and in gorillas and orangutans) is commonly associated with diffuse interstitial myocardial fibrosis of unknown cause. In contrast, most human heart disease results from coronary artery atherosclerosis, which occludes myocardial blood supply, causing ischemic damage. The typical myocardial infarction of humans due to coronary artery thrombosis is rare in these apes, despite their human-like coronary-risk-prone blood lipid profiles. Instead, chimpanzee 'heart attacks' are likely due to arrythmias triggered by myocardial fibrosis. Why do humans not often suffer from the fibrotic heart disease so common in our closest evolutionary cousins? Conversely, why do chimpanzees not have the kind of heart disease so common in humans? The answers could be of value to medical care, as well as to understanding human evolution. A preliminary attempt is made to explore possibilities at the histological level, with a focus on glycosylation changes.

Copyright information:

© 2009 The Authors.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

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