Understanding what makes captive gorilla hearts tick

June 26, 2019

Cleveland, Ohio; Kent, Ohio -- We've known for some time that heart disease is prevalent in captive gorilla populations and is a leading cause of death. This is why, in 2010, the Great Ape Heart Project based at Zoo Atlanta was formed. The project provides a network of clinical, pathologic and research strategies to aid in the understanding and treating of cardiac disease in all the ape species, with the ultimate goal of reducing cardiovascular-related mortalities and improving the health and welfare of great apes in human care.

"Gorilla heart disease is similar to, but different from, what we see in humans," said Hayley Murphy, D.V.M., deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, director of the Great Ape Heart Project and co-author of a recent paper that appears in the journal PLOS ONE. "In humans, we primarily see atherosclerosis - plaques that form in the vessels from cholesterol. In contrast, gorilla hearts get thick, which causes scarring and interferes with normal heart function."

In the present study, veterinarians, human cardiologists and researchers joined forces to examine data gathered from zoos across the United States. They gathered information during routine health exams from 44 males and 25 females. Using echocardiograph data and serum measures that veterinarians gathered at the various institutions, the authors were able to examine not only which gorillas had heart disease, but also what factors may be related to illness.

"One mysterious finding is that the majority of gorillas that develop heart disease are males," said co-author Mary Ann Raghanti, Ph.D., anthropology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University. "While females do develop heart disease in some cases, the disease is less prevalent in the females, despite living just as long - or longer - than males."

Lead author Patricia Dennis, D.V.M., Ph.D., veterinary epidemiologist at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and associate professor at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, remarked, "We are one step closer to understanding heart disease in gorillas. As we have become more aware of the health risks of obesity in ourselves, we also are managing animal nutrition to prevent obesity. Zoos are actively managing and improving diets. Research will continue as we try to understand not only what causes heart disease in male gorillas but also why females don't seem to develop as much heart disease. Ultimately, our goal is to prevent heart disease in the next generation of gorillas in our care."
-end-
To read the PLOS ONE paper titled "Cardiac Disease Is Linked to Adiposity in Male Gorillas," visit http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0218763.

Media Contact:

Jim Maxwell, jmaxwel2@kent.edu, 330-672-8028

Kent State University

Related Obesity Articles from Brightsurf:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.

Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.

Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?

Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.

Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.

Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.

Read More: Obesity News and Obesity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.