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The impact of dietary protein intake on serum biochemical and haematological profiles in vervet monkeys

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This study evaluated the influence of Westernised and traditional African diets on biochemical and haematological profiles in vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops). Twelve adult male vervet monkeys bred at the Medical Research Council, all over 4 years of age and weighing more than 5 kg each, were divided into two groups of six individuals. These monkeys were raised on a standard in-house diet post-weaning, before they were fed for 8 weeks on diets containing milk solids (17.2%) or maize+legume (17.4%), as sources of high crude protein (±3.5 g/kg). High protein diets had no significant effect on serum biochemical indices such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) concentrations (P>0.10). However, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) concentrations were significantly higher during week 8 (P<0.05) for the maize+legume protein group. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP; P<0.07), total protein (P<0.0001), albumin (P<0.02), and bilirubin (P<0.003) were elevated in the milk solids group, while glucose levels were also significantly higher for the milk solids group (P<0.05) between weeks 2 and 6. Elevated protein intake had no significant effect on haematological parameters such as red blood cells (RBC), platelet and white blood cell (WBC) counts, haemoglobin levels and monocyte and neutrophil concentrations (P>0.10). In contrast, serum lymphocyte levels were significantly raised in the maize+legume protein group (P=0.03), whereas values for the haematocrit (P<0.002), mean cell volume (MCV; P<0.03) and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC; P<0.0001) were higher in the monkeys that were fed the milk solids.

This investigation showed that the type of dietary protein that is consumed may well affect certain biochemical and haematological indices in vervet monkeys. Compared to the group that were given the traditional African food regime, the animals on the Western-type milk solids diet showed significant elevations in a number of important biological indicators. However, longer-term studies should be completed in this area if we are to make firmer conclusions regarding the link between the nature of dietary proteins that are consumed and its effect on metabolism.
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Keywords: biochemistry; diet; haematology; protein; vervet monkeys

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of the Western Cape, Private bag X17, Bellville; 2: Department of Paramedical Sciences, Peninsula Technikon Bellville, South Africa;

Publication date: 01 February 2001

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