Researchers, managers and conservationists in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa, have reported cases of individual baboons (Papio ursinus) appearing overweight, lethargic and having poor teeth. Despite an intensive baboon management programme, there are certain individual baboons and troops that continue to raid human food sources. These food sources often are high in processed carbohydrates and saturated fats. As this diet is highly associated with obesity, insulin resistance and type II diabetes, the present study aimed to establish if these baboons may be at risk of developing insulin resistance. Post mortem muscle samples from 17 Cape Peninsula and 7 control adult male baboons were rapidly frozen in liquid nitrogen and analysed for insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1), glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), oxidative and glycolytic markers of metabolism (citrate synthase, 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA-dehydrogenase, lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase activities), and muscle fibre morphology. The sampled Peninsula baboons were heavier (33 ± 2 vs. 29 ± 2 kg, P < 0.05) and had a higher frequency of poor teeth compared to control baboons. Muscle fibre type, fibre size, GLUT4 content, oxidative and glycolytic metabolism were not different between the two groups. However, IRS-1 content, a marker of insulin sensitivity, was significantly lower (by 43%, P < 0.001) in the Peninsula baboons compared to the controls. This study provides the first indirect evidence that some Peninsula baboons with a history of raiding human food sources, may be at risk of developing insulin resistance in the wild, with long term implications for population health.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.

References

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