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Gastroenterology. 1996 Jan;110(1):102-15.

A prospective study of the epidemiology of colitis and colon cancer in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus).

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Department of Comparative Pathology, New England Regional Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, Massachusetts, USA.



Spontaneous colitis and colon cancer in the cotton-top tamarin have been shown to resemble human ulcerative colitis and its associated cancer. The effect of environment and diet on the evolution of the disease was studied in animals from birth to 5 years of age.


Newborn tamarins were assigned to three groups reared in (1) a colony in which colitis was highly prevalent and fed a standard diet; (2) an isolation unit and fed a standard diet or one of two semipurified diets; and (3) a multispecies nursery, returned to the colony, and fed the same semipurified diets. Mucosal biopsy specimens from the descending colon were taken at 4-month intervals.


Acute colitis and chronic mucosal changes were significantly higher in the colony than in the isolation unit. Diet had no effect on acute colitis, but chronic mucosal changes were significantly higher in animals fed a standard diet than semipurified diets.


Data suggest that acute colitis was associated with environment. Factors in the environment, including a transmissible agent, are discussed. Chronic mucosal changes were modified by diet. Cancer was associated with acute colitis and chronic changes and seems to be associated with diet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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