Marmosets used for kidney pathology experiments – 25 killed via cardiac puncture

Collins, MG, Rogers, NM, Jesudason, S, Kireta, S, Brealey, J & Coates, PT. 2014. ‘Spontaneous glomerular mesangial lesions in common marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus): a benign non-progressive glomerulopathy’,Journal of Medical Primatology.

Associated Institutions: Royal Adelaide Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the University of Adelaide, SA Pathology

The Experiment

This experiment was conducted to ‘further characterize the nature of spontaneous renal pathology’ in marmosets, in order to ‘establish the feasibility of the marmoset as a potential kidney transplant model’.

32 healthy marmosets, aged 2–14 and weighing 250–500g, were housed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital marmoset colony.

Blood was collected from the marmosets via the femoral vein in the thigh. Marmosets which had blood samples taken frequently were given supplemental liquid iron to prevent anemia. Urine was also collected by catching marmosets and holding them over a metal tray to collect samples.

25 of the marmosets were killed via cardiac (heart) puncture, while under inhalational anaesthesia, and tissues, blood, and urine was collected. 19 marmosets were killed for research purposes (experimental group) and 6 were killed for progressive weight loss. Of the 19 killed for research purposes, 15 had been previously used in fertility studies, and 4 in immune biology studies. Mean age of the marmosets at the time of being killed was 5.8 years in the experimental group and 8.8 years in the weight loss group.

Collected kidney tissue was analysed using histological, immunofluorescent and electron microscopic techniques.

The authors of the experiment suggest that marmosets’ use was favourable due to their small size promoting ‘ease of animal husbandry’, that ‘they are not endangered’, and they have ‘a relatively rapid generational turnover’

Relevance to Humans

There are major anatomical, genetic, dietetic, environmental, toxic, and immune differences between animals – including marmosets – and humans(1), making them inappropriate for use in studying human disease such as renal (kidney) pathology. Many studies and systematic reviews show that there is discordance between animal and human studies, and that animal ‘models’ fail to mimic clinical disease adequately(2)(3).

One must seriously question why the researchers engaged in this study did not utilise a human sample to study this area, and/or advanced human biology-based methods of research, in order for results to be directly relevant to human health outcomes.


The experiment was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) through project grant 339374 ($90,000), and medical postgraduate scholarships to various authors.

What You Can Do

Please use the form below to tell the Animal Ethics Committee how disappointed you are with their approval of animal use in this experiment. You can use the text provided or compose your own (remember personalised messages carry more weight).

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(1) Pound P, Ebrahim S, Sandercock P, Bracken MB, Roberts I; on behalf of the Reviewing Animal Trials Systematically Group. 2004. ‘Where is the evidence that animal research benefits humans?’, BMJ, 328, 514-7.

(2) Perel P, Roberts I, Sena E, Wheble P, Briscoe C, Sandercock P, et al. 2007. ‘Comparison of treatment effects between animal experiments and clinical trials: systemic review’, BMJ, 334:197.

(3) Van der Worp H, Howells DV, Sena ES, Porritt MJ, Rewell S, O”Collins V, et al. 2010. ‘Can animal models of disease reliably inform human studies?’, PLoS Med.


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