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Physiol Behav. 1992 Mar;51(3):467-72.

Social separation and reunion affects immune system in juvenile rhesus monkeys.

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  • 1Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Lawrenceville, GA 30243.


Removal of juvenile rhesus monkeys from their natal social group to indoor individual caging resulted in increased basal cortisol secretion and significant decrements in the frequency of lymphoid subpopulations. Fourteen juvenile rhesus monkeys, which had never been removed from the group, were studied. Baseline immune and cortisol measurements were obtained before seven of the subjects were removed from social housing to standard individual cages. The remaining seven subjects, matched for age, sex, weight, and rank, remained in the social group throughout the study serving as controls. Blood samples were taken 24 hours after removal of the test subjects from the group and at specific intervals thereafter through 11 weeks. At 24 hours after the separation test subjects showed a significant increase in basal cortisol levels (40%) and a significant decrease in several immune parameters, with absolute numbers of total T cells declining 72 +/- 12%. Significant group differences in immune parameters persisted through 11 weeks. Eighteen weeks following removal, the test subjects were returned to the group which produced a cortisol rise in both test and controls at the 24-hour postreturn sample. Although there were no group differences in the frequency of lymphoid subsets 24 hours after return, some test subjects showed marked decrements which were inversely related to cortisol and were predicted by behavioral events. These data demonstrate that the removal of naive juvenile rhesus monkeys from their natal social group to individual indoor caging is a potent psychosocial stressor and that the behavioral interactions which characterize the return of the individual subjects to the natal group may predict physiological response.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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