Adrenal responsiveness and social status in intact and ovariectomized Macaca fascicularis

Authors

  • Jay R. Kaplan PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Comparative Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    • Department of Comparative Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
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  • Michael R. Adams,

    1. Department of Comparative Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Donald R. Koritnik,

    1. Department of Comparative Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • James C. Rose,

    1. Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Stephen B. Manuck

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

Plasma cortisol (F) response to intravenous adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) infusion (following dexamethasone suppression) was examined in adult female Macaca fascicularis that had been living for 22 months in social groups consisting of four to six females and one male. A portion of these females were ovariectomized (n = 21), while the rest were reproductively intact (n = 23). The social behavior of all animals was monitored with a focal sampling procedure, and dominance ranks were determined on the basis of fight outcomes. Further, intact females were swabbed vaginally to determine onset of menstruation and were sampled for plasma progesterone (P) every three days during the luteal phase of their cycles. Among the results was that the plasma F response to ACTH infusion was greater in subordinate animals than in dominants (P < .02). Subordinates and dominants did not, however, differ in plasma F measured at baseline. It was found further that plasma F concentrations were greater in ovariectomized than in intact females at baseline and following ACTH injection (P < .01). Finally, there was an appreciable elevation in plasma F across all animals during the 15- and 30-minute post-ACTH injection measurements (P < .01). Subsequent analyses of data from intact females showed interrelationships among dominance rank, reproductive function (indicated by luteal phase plasma P concentrations), adrenal size, and adrenal response to ACTH infusion. These data indicated that subordinate females were at a reproductive disadvantage compared to dominants, a result that may have been mediated, in part, by the increased adrenal size and enhanced adrenal responsiveness of subordinate females.

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