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Chimpanzee Down syndrome: a case study of trisomy 22 in a captive chimpanzee


We report a case of chimpanzee trisomy 22 in a captive-born female. Because chromosome 22 in great apes is homologous to human chromosome 21, the present case is analogous to human trisomy 21, also called Down syndrome. The chimpanzee in the present case experienced retarded growth; infantile cataract and vision problems, including nystagmus, strabismus, and keratoconus; congenital atrial septal defect; and hypodontia. All of these symptoms are common in human Down syndrome. This case was the second reported case of trisomy 22 in the chimpanzee. The chimpanzee in our case became blind by 7 years old, making social life with other chimpanzees difficult, but opportunities to interact with other conspecific individuals have been offered routinely. We believe that providing her with the best care over the course of her life will be essential.

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We have complied with the ethical standards in the treatment of the chimpanzees with the guidelines of the Primate Society of Japan. We thank the staff at Kumamoto Sanctuary for support in caring for the chimpanzees. The care of the chimpanzees and the present study was financially supported by JSPS grant #23220006, 26245069, 25119008, 242550099, 15H05709, 16H06301, 16H06283, JSPS-LGP-U04, JSPS core-to-core CCSN.

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Correspondence to Satoshi Hirata.

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Hirata, S., Hirai, H., Nogami, E. et al. Chimpanzee Down syndrome: a case study of trisomy 22 in a captive chimpanzee. Primates 58, 267–273 (2017).

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  • Chimpanzee
  • Trisomy
  • Chromosomal abnormality
  • Down syndrome
  • Cataract
  • Atrial septal defect