Iron overload is common in lemurs and some New World nonhuman primates raised in captivity, but there is no such documentation in the red bald-headed uakari (Cacajao calvus rubicundus). This study describes postmortem documentation of severe iron storage disease in one red bald-headed uakari and the use of iron chelation with oral deferasirox in the three surviving members of the colony. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to quantify pretreatment iron burden and to follow the response to therapy in two females, 22 and 28 yr of age, and one male 33 yr of age. Baseline liver iron concentrations ranged from 16 to 23 mg/g dry weight. In humans, a liver iron concentration greater than 15 mg/g is considered severe and associated with endocrine and cardiac toxicity. The uakaris were otherwise asymptomatic, generally healthy, nonpregnant, and on a stable, low-iron diet. Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging indicated that dosage escalations up to 100 mg/kg were needed to produce meaningful reductions in iron stores. After 5 yr of therapy, two animals continue at a dosage of 100 mg/kg per day, and the third was transitioned to twice-weekly maintenance dosing because of successful de-ironing. The animals tolerated iron chelation therapy well, having stable hematologic, renal, and hepatic function profiles before, during, and after treatment. Deferasirox monotherapy may represent a therapeutic option in primates with iron storage disease when dietary measures are ineffective and phlebotomy is logistically challenging.
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