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Am J Primatol. 2016 Jan;78(1):117-26. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22413. Epub 2015 May 1.

The ticking clock of Cayo Santiago macaques and its implications for understanding human circadian rhythm disorders.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.
Deptartment of Molecular and Human Genetics, Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.
Caribbean Primate Research Center, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico.
Departments of Medicine (Biomedical Genetics), Neurology, Ophthalmology, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Boston, MA.


The circadian clock disorders in humans remain poorly understood. However, their impact on the development and progression of major human conditions, from cancer to insomnia, metabolic or mental illness becomes increasingly apparent. Addressing human circadian disorders in animal models is, in part, complicated by inverse temporal relationship between the core clock and specific physiological or behavioral processes in diurnal and nocturnal animals. Major advantages of a macaque model for translational circadian research, as a diurnal vertebrate phylogenetically close to humans, are further emphasized by the discovery of the first familial circadian disorder in non-human primates among the rhesus monkeys originating from Cayo Santiago. The remarkable similarity of their pathological phenotypes to human Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD), high penetrance of the disorder within one branch of the colony and the large number of animals available provide outstanding opportunities for studying the mechanisms of circadian disorders, their impact on other pathological conditions, and for the development of novel and effective treatment strategies.


DSPD; desynchrony; genetic; night eating; primate; rhesus monkey

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