Characterization of ovarian aging and reproductive senescence in vervet monkeys (chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus)

Hannah M. Atkins, Cynthia J. Willson, Marnie Silverstein, Matthew Jorgensen, Edison Floyd, Jay R. Kaplan, Susan E. Appt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Female vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) are used as an experimental model for chronic diseases relevant to women's health. However, reproductive senescence (menopause) has not yet been characterized for vervet monkeys. Here we describe the histologic, hormonal, and menstrual markers of reproductive senescence in vervet monkeys from the Wake Forest Vervet Research Colony. Ovaries from monkeys (age, 0 to 27 y) were serially sectioned (5 μm), stained, and photographed. In every 100th section, the numbers of primordial, primary, and secondary follicles were determined, and triplicate measurements were used to calculate mean numbers of follicles per ovary. Antimüllerian hormone (AMH), follicle stimulating hormone, and menstrual cycle length were measured in additional monkeys. Primordial follicles and AMH decreased significantly with age, and significant correlations between numbers of primordial and primary follicles and between numbers of primary and secondary follicles were noted. Histologic evaluation revealed that ovaries from 4 aged monkeys (older than 23 y) were senescent. One aged monkey transitioned to menopause, experiencing cycle irregularity over 4 y, eventual cessation of menses, and plasma AMH below the level of detection. Finally, with increasing age, the percentage of female vervets with offspring declined significantly. The present study provides insight into ovarian aging and reproductive senescence in vervet monkeys. Results highlight the importance of considering this nonhuman primate as a model to investigate the relationships between ovarian aging and chronic disease risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalComparative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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