Monkeys, aggression, and the pathobiology of atherosclerosis
Article first published online: 6 DEC 1998
Copyright © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Special Issue: Social Defeat and Subordination as Models of Social Stress
Volume 24, Issue 4, pages 323–334, 1998
How to Cite
Kaplan, J. R. and Manuck, S. B. (1998), Monkeys, aggression, and the pathobiology of atherosclerosis. Aggr. Behav., 24: 323–334. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(1998)24:4<323::AID-AB7>3.0.CO;2-J
- Issue published online: 6 DEC 1998
- Article first published online: 6 DEC 1998
- Manuscript Accepted: 16 DEC 1997
- Manuscript Received: 1 MAY 1997
- coronary heart disease;
- sympathetic nervous system
Although it is frequently hypothesized that psychosocial factors influence the development of coronary heart disease and the underlying atherosclerosis, evidence directly supporting this hypothesis or identifying the mediating mechanisms has been sparse at best. The present article reviews research designed to elucidate the role of behavior in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis (and thus coronary heart disease). Particular emphasis is placed on experimental evidence linking atherosclerosis to both behavior and sympathoadrenal activation in cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis). In males of this monkey species, behavioral dominance and aggression interact with social instability to promote the development of diet-induced atherosclerosis. Beta-adrenoreceptor blockade prevents this behavioral exacerbation of atherosclerosis, suggesting a mechanism of sympathetic origin. Furthermore, independently of social rank or environmental perturbation, animals exhibiting a heightened cardiac responsivity to stress are excessively aggressive and also develop the most extensive coronary lesions. Taken together, these experimental data strongly implicate aggressiveness and sympathetic arousal, occurring as a result of either inherent hypersensitivity or environmental stimulation, in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Additional data suggest that a specific neurotransmitter complex—the serotonergic (5-hydroxytryptamine) system—modulates factors associated with the expression of social dominance and exaggerated heart rate reactivity, perhaps thereby explaining a portion of variable susceptibility to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Aggr. Behav. 24:323–334, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.