Aging NHP Resource

The number of elderly in the U.S. and in other industrialized nations is projected to grow rapidly, perhaps doubling within the next 25 years.  Fueled by the expansive baby-boom generation, coupled with increased lifespan, record numbers of post-retirees will enjoy a longer period of time in their "golden years".  But it is also anticipated that there will also be a concomitant escalation in the number of elderly who experience an increased period of time in a fragile state, encumbered by and progressive illnesses.  This gradual loss of functionality or "healthspan" will be a significant challenge for health care management, social services, and benefits programs.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) was created by Congress in 1974, to meet the emerging aging challenge, with a focus on the extension of the "health-span" of people.  In order to accelerate research on aging and its diseases, the NIA helped create and maintain models for the study of human aging, which include rodent populations and the highly translational Primate Aging Study (PAS).  The PAS program has provided support for the formation and maintenance of colonies of aged nonhuman primates at ONPRC, as well as several other participating Primate Centers.  The PAS colonies take advantage of the existing resources and infrastructure at the NPRCs to produce and maintain this vital research model.

To enhance aging research at ONPRC, the Aging Nonhuman Primates Resource was created in 1999, with the following programmatic goals:

  • Manage the enrollment of animals into the PAS program.
  • Provide technical and veterinary consultation to for research efforts.
  • Promote collaborative efforts in basic and clinical science.
  • Collect biomarker information using non-invasive techniques, such as in vivo scans.
  • Support project development and coordinate animal assignments to projects.
  • Maintain an aged tissue archive for scientific discovery.
  • Explore the ONPRC database for age-related information.
The Aging Resource currently supports projects that span several disciplines and includes the examination of the effects of aging on central nervous system function (for example, cognition), reproductive senescence and immune function.  In addition, projects on models of neurodegeneration are being pursued.  Interventions, like diet (restriction and modeling the Western style diet) and hormone-replacement therapy have also been utilized and variations of these and other experimental themes continue to evolve.

The Aging Nonhuman Primates Resource also provides the foundation for the Biology of Aging Program.  This research focus group was recently generated due to wide interest in aging by the researchers at ONPRC and OHSU, and will help create a multi-disciplinary approach in the study of senescence in the nonhuman primate.

Steven G. Kohama, Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist, Head