Assessing the effects of social environment on blood pressure and heart rates of baboons

Authors

  • Anthony M. Coelho Jr. Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Behavioral Medicine Laboratory, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas
    2. Department of Physiology and Medicine, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas
    • Behavioral Medicine Laboratory, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, P.O., Box 28147, San Antonio, TX 78228-0147
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  • K. Dee Carey,

    1. Department of Physiology and Medicine, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas
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  • Robert E. Shade

    1. Department of Physiology and Medicine, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas
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Abstract

The objective of this publication is to report on the feasibility of using a tether system for obtaining data on blood pressure and heart rates of socially housed primates and to evaluate the extent to which housing environment alters cardiovascular responses (mean arterial blood pressure and heart rate). Blood pressure and heart rates of adult male baboons (Papio cynocephalus hamadryas) were evaluated over a 6 week period under three different housing conditions: social companion, individual, and socially unfamiliar. Social environment was manipulated in a specially designed cage that incorporated removable panels of either woven wire or solid sheet metal. The design of the cage permitted nonhuman primates to engage in species-typical social behaviors such as grooming and aggression. Using a tether and catheter system, we monitored cardiovascular physiology. We tested the hypothesis that individual housing, housing with social companions, and housing with social strangers would produce different mean arterial blood pressure and heart rate responses. Individual housing and housing with strangers produced resting mean arterial blood pressures that were elevated relative to blood pressure responses with social companions. Individual housing and housing with social strangers produced different patterns of cardiovascular response. Individual housing resulted in lowered heart rates and elevated blood pressures relative to the social companion condition. Housing with social strangers resulted in both elevated blood pressure and elevated heart rate, relative to the social companion condition. Responses observed during this study demonstrated the sensitivity of blood pressure and heart rates to differences in social environment.

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