Kohn 2015 Abstract MiPschool Cape Town 2015

From Bioblast
Are Cape Peninsula baboons raiding their way to obesity and type II diabetes?


Kohn TA, Leith D, Van Velden J, Lovette J, Goyaram V, Ojuka EO, Reed C (2015)

Event: MiPschool Cape Town 2015

Over indulgence on a diet rich in processed carbohydrate and fat has been associated with obesity and type II diabetes [1]. This highly palatable diet and its abundant availability have since been discovered by the chachma baboons (Papio ursinus) residing on the Cape Peninsula, mostly from direct contact with humans. However, nature conservation has since indicated that these animals appear overweight, are lethargic and present with ill health (hair and teeth loss) [2].

This study therefore aimed to provide evidence that these baboons may be at risk of developing insulin resistance.

Carcasses of ten adult male baboons from the Cape Peninsula (urban) and 6 from the rural countryside (no access to processed food) were donated towards this study. Body composition was determined using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Muscle samples from the vastus lateralis were analysed for insulin response substrate-1 (IRS-1) and citrate synthase (CS) activity [3,4].

Urban baboons were larger than the rural group, but similar total body fat % (12Β±2% for both). CS activity, a marker of oxidative capacity in muscle, was higher in rural baboons (urban vs. control: 4.2Β±0.9 vs. 5.4Β±0.9 ΞΌmol min-1 g-1 wet weight, p<0.05), indicating that urban baboons may have reduced physical activity. The content of IRS-1 (associated with insulin resistance) was lower in urban baboons compared to rural (1.0Β±0.5 vs. 1.8Β±0.2 a.u., p<0.01), indicating that these baboons may present with a reduced insulin sensitivity. Our results complement the observations by the authorities that the urban group has a reduced physical activity (lethargic).

This study provides indirect evidence that baboons, frequently consuming a Western diet, are at risk of developing insulin resistance in the wild.

β€’ O2k-Network Lab: ZA Cape Town Ojuka EO

Labels: MiParea: Exercise physiology;nutrition;life style, mt-Medicine  Pathology: Diabetes 

Organism: Other mammals 


1-Human Biol, Univ Cape Town, South Africa. - [email protected] 2-Biol Sc, Univ Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. Katz LE, Gralewski KA, Abrams P, Brar PC, Gallagher PR, Lipman TH, Brooks LJ, Koren(2014) Insulin-like growth factor-I and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 are related to cardiovascular disease biomarkers in obese adolescents. Pediatr Diabetes 17:77-86.
  2. Drewe JA, O'Riain MJ, Beamish E, Currie H, Parsons S (2012) Survey of infections transmissible between baboons and humans, Cape Town, South Africa. Emerg Infect Dis 18:298-301.
  3. Kohn TA, Myburgh KH (2007) Regional specialization of rat quadriceps myosin heavy chain isoforms occurring in distal to proximal parts of middle and deep regions is not mirrored by citrate synthase activity. J Anat 210:8-18
  4. Shao J, Yamashita H, Qiao L, Draznin B, Friedman JE (2002) Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase redistribution is associated with skeletal muscle insulin resistance in gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes 2002 51:19-29.
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