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J Med Primatol. 2003 Jun;32(3):123-30.

The tree shrews: adjuncts and alternatives to primates as models for biomedical research.

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1
Department of Pathology, Guangxi Cancer Institute, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, China.

Abstract

The tree shrews are non-rodent, primate-like, small animals. There is increasing interest in using them to establish animal models for medical and biological research. This review focuses on the use of the tree shrews in in vivo studies on viral hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), myopia, and psychosocial stress. Because of the susceptibility of the tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri) and their hepatocytes to infection with human hepatitis B virus (HBV) in vivo and in vitro, these animals have been used to establish human hepatitis virus-induced hepatitis and human HBV- and aflatoxin B1-associated HCC models. As these animals are phylogenetically close to primates in evolution and have a well-developed visual system and color vision in some species, they have been utilized to establish myopia models. Because dramatic behavioral, physiological, and neuroendocrine changes in subordinate male tree shrews are similar to those observed in depressed human patients, the tree shrews have been successfully employed to experimentally study psychosocial stress. However, the tree shrews holds significant promise as research models and great use could be made of these animals in biomedical research.

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