Spotlight on Susan Appt, DVM
Susan Appt, DVM, Assistant Professor of Comparative Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine is doing research on the effects of diet and ovarian dysfunction on risk factors for chronic diseases (i.e. heart disease, bone loss & metabolic syndrome).
Dr. Appt uses the cynomologus macaque (M. fascicularis) model in her women’s health research because these monkeys have reproductive features that are nearly identical to women, including similar menstrual cycle lengths and hormonal patterns and natural menopause. Furthermore, they have a close phylogenetic relationship to human beings (greater than a 95% homology in DNA) and similar coronary artery anatomy/function.
Recent data collected using this model indicate that monkeys consuming animal protein based diets may experience more rapid ovarian aging than those that were exposed to a plant protein based diet. Another potentially important finding for women is the observation that monkeys that were reproductively older (as indicated by low antimullerian hormone-AMH) when they began consuming a high fat/high cholesterol diet typical of that consumed in the US, were at increased risk for heart disease compared to reproductively younger females.
These data suggest a potential link between reproductive age and the susceptibility of arteries to atherosclerosis development, in the context of a non prudent diet.
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