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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 May 26;370(1669). pii: 20140104. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0104.

Social instability and immunity in rhesus monkeys: the role of the sympathetic nervous system.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA jpcapitanio@ucdavis.edu.
2
Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, UCLA School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

Abstract

Social instability can adversely affect endocrine, immune and health outcomes, and recent evidence suggests that the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) might mediate these effects. We conducted two studies with adult male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) to understand how social conditions affect measures of SNS activity and immune function. In Experiment 1, animals were socialized in stable social conditions, then were switched to unstable (stressful) social conditions, then were returned to stable conditions. Analysis revealed quadratic effects for measures of behaviour, urinary metabolites of epinephrine and norepinephrine, and expression of immune response genes: as expected, social instability adversely impacted most measures, and the effects remediated upon re-imposition of stable conditions. Cortisol levels were unaffected. In Experiment 2, we used the sympathomimetic drug methamphetamine to challenge the SNS; animals also underwent socialization in stable or unstable groups. Surprisingly, while methamphetamine elevated plasma catecholamines, responses in lymph nodes tracked the social, and not the drug, condition: social instability upregulated the density of SNS fibres in lymph nodes and downregulated Type I interferon gene expression. Together, these results indicate that the SNS is extremely sensitive to social conditions; full understanding of the adverse effects of social instability on health should therefore incorporate measures of this health-relevant system.

KEYWORDS:

lymph nodes; psychoneuroimmunology; rhesus monkeys; social stress; stress hormones; sympathetic nervous system

PMID:
25870391
PMCID:
PMC4410371
DOI:
10.1098/rstb.2014.0104
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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