Sex, social status and physiological stress in primates: The importance of social and glucocorticoid dynamics

Sonia Angele Cavigelli, Michael J. Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social status has been associated with health consequences, although the mechanisms by which status affects health are relatively unknown. At the physiological level, many studies have investigated the potential relationship between social behaviour/rank and physiological stress, with a particular focus on glucocorticoid (GC) production. GCs are of interest because of their experimentally established influence on health-related processes such asmetabolismand immune function. Studies in a variety of species, in both naturalistic and laboratory settings, have led to complex outcomes. This paper reviews findings from primates and rodents and proposes a psychologically and physiologically relevant framework in which to study the relationship between social status and GC function. We (i) compare status-specific GC production between male and female primates, (ii) review the functional significance of different temporal patterns of GC production, (iii) propose ways to assess these temporal dynamics, and (iv) present novel hypotheses about the relationship between social status and GC temporal dynamics, and potential fitness and health implications. To understand whether GC production mediates social status-related fitness disparities, we must consider social contest conditions and the temporal dynamics of GC production. This framework will provide greater insights into the relationship between social status, physiological stress and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume370
Issue number1669
DOIs
StatePublished - May 26 2015

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Physiological Stress
glucocorticoids
Primates
Glucocorticoids
gender
Health
Social Behavior
Social Conditions
physiological state
health status
social behavior
Health Status
Rodentia
rodents

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

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abstract = "Social status has been associated with health consequences, although the mechanisms by which status affects health are relatively unknown. At the physiological level, many studies have investigated the potential relationship between social behaviour/rank and physiological stress, with a particular focus on glucocorticoid (GC) production. GCs are of interest because of their experimentally established influence on health-related processes such asmetabolismand immune function. Studies in a variety of species, in both naturalistic and laboratory settings, have led to complex outcomes. This paper reviews findings from primates and rodents and proposes a psychologically and physiologically relevant framework in which to study the relationship between social status and GC function. We (i) compare status-specific GC production between male and female primates, (ii) review the functional significance of different temporal patterns of GC production, (iii) propose ways to assess these temporal dynamics, and (iv) present novel hypotheses about the relationship between social status and GC temporal dynamics, and potential fitness and health implications. To understand whether GC production mediates social status-related fitness disparities, we must consider social contest conditions and the temporal dynamics of GC production. This framework will provide greater insights into the relationship between social status, physiological stress and health.",
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