PerspectiveGene Expression

Proinflammatory primates

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Science  25 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6315, pp. 967-968
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3170

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Summary

If you have the choice, don't be a low-ranking, female rhesus monkey. As with many primates, rhesus social groups feature stable, linear dominance hierarchies. Those at the bottom work harder for their calories, have less access to social support (e.g., grooming), and are more subject to displacement aggression from a dominant individual (1). Not surprisingly, primate social subordination can produce adverse health outcomes. Depending on the species, gender, and setting, this includes elevated concentrations of glucocorticoids (the adrenal steroids secreted during stressful situations) and increased rates of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive dysfunction (2). On page 1041 of this issue, Snyder-Mackler et al. (3) show that primate social subordination promotes a proinflammatory response. Do the trials, tribulations, and inflammatory states of rhesus monkeys apply to us?