Baboons used in blood pressure experiments – pregnant, juvenile, and adolescent baboons amongst over 100 involved

Yeung, K, Lind, JM, Heffernan, Scott, J, SJ, Sunderland, N, Hennessy, A & Makris, A 2014. ‘Comparison of indirect and direct blood pressure measurements in baboons during ketamine anaesthesia’, Journal of Medical Primatology, 43: 217-224.

Associated Institution(s): The University of Western Sydney, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Animal Care Facility, Australian National Baboon Colony

The Experiments

This study used 109 baboons, which were sourced from the Australian National Baboon Colony in Sydney, and ranged in age from between 2 and 25 years old. The experiments were conducted in an attempt to investigate different methods of blood pressure measurement in anaesthetised baboons.

The first part of the study involved three pregnant baboons. First, at 130 days into their pregnancies, they underwent surgery under ketamine anaesthesia as part of a pregnancy hypertension experiment. Prior to the surgery the baboons were administered with pre-medications, including medications to prevent ketamine-induced vomiting (thereby reducing the risk of the airway becoming blocked), as well as to prevent ketamine-induced seizures.

The surgery was then performed, and involved the insertion of a catheter (tube) into a large artery in the abdominal area via the deep artery of the thigh. Following this, the pregnant baboons had a device implanted within the arteries of their left or right lower abdomens. Using the implanted device, blood pressure data was collected twice, at 150 and 170 days into their pregnancies. All three of the baboons also had their blood pressure measurements taken while under anaesthesia during surgical procedures, including apheresis therapy and removal of the aforementioned device.

The second part of the study involved 106 baboons (45 males and 61 females), who also had their blood pressure measurements taken under anaesthesia (ketamine), using a mercury blood pressure meter and an oscillometer (used to measure changes in pulsations in the arteries). Of the 106 baboons, 29 were juveniles (less than 3 years old), 49 were adolescent (3-6.9 years old), and 28 were adults (over 7 years old).

Relevance to Humans

There are major anatomical, genetic, dietetic, environmental, toxic, and immune differences between animals – including baboons – and humans(1), making them inappropriate for use in studying human disease. 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)

Given this, one must seriously question why the researchers engaged in this study spent valuable time and resources investigating blood pressure measurement methods in support of further non-human primate and other animal experiments, rather than investing in advanced human biology-based methods of research, in order for results to be directly relevant to human health outcomes.


Funding of this study involved JM Lind being support by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)– Australian Biomedical Fellowship, and K Yeung being the recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award and University of Western Sydney Postgraduate Research Award. The NHMRC also supports the National Baboon Colony.

What You Can Do

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