May 1, 1997

Chronic social stress, social status, and susceptibility to upper respiratory infections in nonhuman primates

Psychosomatic Medicine
Sheldon CohenJ R Kaplan


The objective of the study was to assess the roles of social stress and social status in susceptibility to upper respiratory infection. Sixty male cynomolgus monkeys were randomly assigned to stable or unstable social conditions for 15 months. Two markers of social status, social rank and percent of behaviors that were submissive, were assessed at independent observation periods. Endocrine, immune, and behavioral responses were each assessed (at 3-month intervals) during the 9th through 14th months of the study. At the beginning of the 15th month, all animals were exposed to a virus (adenovirus) that causes a common-cold-like illness. The primary outcome was whether or not an animal developed an infection (shed virus) after viral exposure. Although the social instability manipulation was associated with increased agonistic behavior as indicated by minor injuries and elevated norepinephrine responses to social reorganizations, the manipulation did not influence the probability of being infected by the virus. However, low social status (as assessed by either marker) was associated with a substantially greater probability of being infected. It was also associated with less body weight, greater elevated cortisol responses to social...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Adenoviruses, Simian
Vigilance, Cortical
Nonhuman primate
Viral Shedding
Weighing Patient
Mental Suffering
Norepinephrine, (+, -)-Isomer
Harassment, Non-Sexual
Endocrine System

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