Mark E Wilson

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

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Publications (59)212.5 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Social subordination in macaque females is a known chronic stressor and previous studies have shown that socially subordinate female rhesus monkeys consume fewer kilocalories than dominant animals when a typical laboratory chow diet is available. However, in a rich dietary environment that provides access to chow in combination with a more palatable diet – high in fat and refined sugar – subordinate animals consume significantly more daily kilocalories than dominant conspecifics. A substantial literature supports a role of stress hormone signals in shaping dietary preferences and promoting consumption of palatable, energy dense foods. The present investigation was conducted using stable groups of adult female rhesus monkeys to test the hypothesis that pharmacological treatment with a brain penetrable corticotropin releasing factor type 1 receptor (CRF1) antagonist would attenuate stress-induced consumption of a palatable diet among subordinate animals in a rich dietary environment but would be without effect in dominant females. Results showed that administration of the CRF1 receptor antagonist significantly reduced daily caloric intake of both available diets among subordinate females compared to dominant females. Importantly, multiple regression analyses showed the attenuation in caloric intake in response to Antalarmin was significantly predicted by the frequency of submissive and aggressive behaviour emitted by females, independent of social status. Together, findings support the involvement of activation of CRF1 receptors in stress-induced consumption of excess calories in a rich dietary environment and support a growing literature on the importance of CRF for sustaining emotional feeding.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology 10/2014; · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This article is part of a Special Issue "Energy Balance". Ingestive behavior in free-ranging populations of nonhuman primates is influenced by resource availability and social group organization and provides valuable insight on the evolution of ecologically adaptive behaviors and physiological systems. As captive populations were established, questions regarding proximate mechanisms that regulate food intake in these animals could be more easily be addressed. The availability of these captive populations has lead to the use of selected species to understand appetite control or metabolic physiology in humans. Recognizing the difficulty of quantitating food intake in free ranging groups, the use of captive, singly-housed animals provided a distinct advantage though, at the same time, produced a different social ecology from the animals' natural habitat. However, with the recent application of novel technologies to quantitate caloric intake and energy expenditure in free feeding, socially-housed monkeys permits prospective studies that can accurately define how food intake changes in response to any number of interventions in the context of a social environment. This review provides an overview of studies examining food intake using captive nonhuman primates organized into three areas: a) neurochemical regulation of food intake in nonhuman primates; b) whether exposure to specific diets during key developmental periods program differences in diet preferences or changes the expression of feeding related neuropeptides; and c) how psychosocial factors influence appetite regulation. Because feeding patterns are driven by more than just satiety and orexigenic signals, appreciating how the social context influences pattern of feeding in nonhuman primates may be quite informative for understanding the biological complexity of feeding in humans.
    Hormones and Behavior 04/2014; · 3.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) and humans (Homo sapiens) share physiological and genetic characteristics, but have remarkably different life spans, with chimpanzees living 50-60 % and the rhesus living 35-40 % of maximum human survival. Since oxidative processes are associated with aging and longevity, we might expect to see species differences in age-related oxidative processes. Blood and extracellular fluid contain two major thiol redox nodes, glutathione (GSH)/glutathione-disulfide (GSSG) and cysteine (Cys)/cystine (CySS), which are subject to reversible oxidation-reduction reactions and are maintained in a dynamic non-equilibrium state. Disruption of these thiol redox nodes leads to oxidation of their redox potentials (EhGSSG and EhCySS) which affects cellular physiology and is associated with aging and the development of chronic diseases in humans. The purpose of this study was to measure age-related changes in these redox thiols and their corresponding redox potentials (Eh) in chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys. Our results show similar age-related decreases in the concentration of plasma GSH and Total GSH as well as oxidation of the EhGSSG in male and female chimpanzees. Female chimpanzees and female rhesus monkeys also were similar in several outcome measures. For example, similar age-related decreases in the concentration of plasma GSH and Total GSH, as well as age-related oxidation of the EhGSSG were observed. The data collected from chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys corroborates previous reports on oxidative changes in humans and confirms their value as a comparative reference for primate aging.
    Age 02/2014; · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This article is part of a Special Issue “Energy Balance”. Ingestive behavior in free-ranging populations of nonhuman primates is influenced by resource availability and social group organization and provides valuable insight on the evolution of ecologically adaptive behaviors and physiological systems. As captive populations were established, questions regarding proximate mechanisms that regulate food intake in these animals could be more easily be addressed. The availability of these captive populations has lead to the use of selected species to understand appetite control or metabolic physiology in humans. Recognizing the difficulty of quantitating food intake in free ranging groups, the use of captive, singly-housed animals provided a distinct advantage though, at the same time, produced a different social ecology from the animals’ natural habitat. However, with the recent application of novel technologies to quantitate caloric intake and energy expenditure in free feeding, socially-housed monkeys permits prospective studies that can accurately define how food intake changes in response to any number of interventions in the context of a social environment. This review provides an overview of studies examining food intake using captive nonhuman primates organized into three areas: a) neurochemical regulation of food intake in nonhuman primates; b) whether exposure to specific diets during key developmental periods program differences in diet preferences or changes the expression of feeding related neuropeptides; and c) how psychosocial factors influence appetite regulation. Because feeding patterns are driven by more than just satiety and orexigenic signals, appreciating how the social context influences pattern of feeding in nonhuman primates may be quite informative for understanding the biological complexity of feeding in humans.
    Hormones and Behavior 01/2014; · 3.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the relationship between social rank and brain white matter (WM) microstructure, and socioemotional behavior, and its modulation by serotonin (5HT) transporter (5HTT) polymorphisms in prepubertal female macaques. Using diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics, social status differences were found in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) WM and cortico-thalamic tracts, with subordinates showing higher WM structural integrity (measured as fractional anisotropy, FA) than dominant animals. 5HTT genotype-related differences were detected in the posterior limb of the internal capsule, where s-variants had higher FA than l/l animals. Status by 5HTT interaction effects were found in (1) external capsule (middle longitudinal fasciculus), (2) parietal WM, and (3) short-range PFC tracts, with opposite effects in dominant and subordinate animals. In most regions showing FA differences, opposite differences were detected in radial diffusivity, but none in axial diffusivity, suggesting that differences in tract integrity likely involve differences in myelin. These findings highlight that differences in social rank are associated with differences in WM structural integrity in juveniles, particularly in tracts connecting prefrontal, sensory processing, motor and association regions, sometimes modulated by 5HTT genotype. Differences in these tracts were associated with increased emotional reactivity in subordinates, particularly with higher submissive and fear behaviors.
    Cerebral Cortex 08/2013; · 8.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Persistent exposure to environmental stressors causes dysregulation of the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (LHPA) axis and alters GABAA receptor (GABAAR) levels throughout the brain. Social subordination in socially housed female rhesus results in distinctive stress-related physiological and behavioral phenotypes that are dependent on the ovarian hormone estradiol (E2). In the present study, we utilized ovariectomized adult female rhesus monkeys undergoing hormone replacement with E2 to test the hypothesis that the chronic psychosocial stress of subordination alters GABAAR binding potential (GABAAR BPND) in limbic regions implicated in emotional processing including the prefrontal cortex, temporal lobe (amygdala and hippocampus), and hypothalamus. Furthermore, we tested the hypothesis that peripheral administration of a corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor (CRHR) antagonist (astressin B) would reverse the alterations in GABAAR binding within these regions in subordinate females. After subjects received astressin B or saline for three consecutive days, GABAAR BPND was determined by positron emission tomography (PET) using (18)F-flumazenil as a radioligand. T1-weighted structural MRI scans were also acquired for PET scan co-registration, in order to perform a region of interest analysis using the pons as a reference region. Compared to socially dominant females, subordinate females exhibited increased GABAAR BPND in the prefrontal cortex but not in the temporal lobe or the hypothalamus. Administration of astressin B eliminated the status difference in GABAAR BPND in the prefrontal cortex, suggesting that the chronic stressor of social subordination modulates GABAergic tone via effects on CRH and the LHPA axis, at least in prefrontal regions.
    Neuroscience 07/2013; · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The complex, interacting influences on eating behavior and energy expenditure prevent elucidation of the causal role of any single factor in the current obesity epidemic. However, greater variety in the food supply, particularly in the form of highly palatable, energy-dense foods, has likely made a contribution. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that greater dietary variety is associated with greater caloric intake within individual meals consumed by free-feeding, socially-housed female rhesus monkeys. Meal patterns were assessed during two, two-week dietary phases. One phase consisted of a choice between a standard chow diet and a highly palatable diet (HPD). The other phase consisted of access to the chow only. Food intake for each subject was recorded continuously using previously validated, automated feeders, and a meal was defined based on a minimum kilocalorie requirement and a minimum inter-meal interval. During the choice condition, animals electively consumed mixed meals that incorporated both diets as well as other meals that consisted exclusively of a single diet - chow-only or HPD-only. Animals consumed the most calories per meal when the meal was comprised of both the chow and HPD, which differed in caloric density, flavor, and texture. Interestingly, however, there was no significant difference in the amount of calories consumed as HPD-only meals in the choice condition compared to meals in the chow-only, no choice condition, suggesting consumption of a single food during a meal, regardless of palatability, provides a constant sensory experience that may lead to more rapid habituation and subsequent meal cessation. Additionally, during the dietary choice condition, animals consumed fewer calories in the form of chow-only meals. Thus, the present results suggest that limiting dietary variety, regardless of palatability, may be a useful strategy for weight loss in overweight and obese individuals by reducing caloric intake within individual meals.
    Physiology & Behavior 06/2013; · 3.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In females, cyclical changes in the ovarian hormone oestradiol are known to modulate feeding behaviour. However, what is less clear is how these behavioural effects of oestradiol are modified by the macronutrient content of a diet. Here we present data showing that oestradiol treatment results in both significantly smaller meals and a reduced total caloric intake in ovariectomised, socially housed female rhesus macaques when only chow diet is available. Conversely, during a choice dietary condition where both palatable and chow options are available, oestradiol treatment had no observable, attenuating effect on caloric intake. During this choice dietary phase, all animals consumed more of the palatable diet than chow diet; however, oestradiol treatment appeared to further increase preference for the palatable diet. Finally, oestradiol treatment increased snacking behaviour, i.e. consumption of calories outside of empirically defined meals, regardless of diet condition. These findings illustrate how oestradiol differentially influences feeding behaviour depending on the dietary environment and provides a framework in which we can begin to examine the mechanisms underlying these observed changes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology 05/2013; · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Psychosocial stress exposure is linked to a disruption of emotional regulation that can manifest as anxiety and depression. Women are more likely to suffer from such psychopathologies than men, indicating that gender-based differences in gonadal steroids may be a key factor in the etiology of stress-induced adverse health outcomes. Estradiol (E2) positively influences mood and cognition in females, an effect likely related to E2's ability to modulate the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter systems. Furthermore, genetic variation due to the polymorphism in the promoter region of the gene (SLC6A4) encoding the serotonin transporter (5HTTLPR) also can influence E2's ability to modulate behavior and physiology. However, it remains uncertain whether exposure to social stress interacts with the 5HTTLPR to influence E2-induced changes in behavior and physiology. The present study used ovariectomized adult female rhesus monkeys to investigate acute and chronic effects of E2 on central monoamine metabolite concentrations using CSF sampling. We further assessed how E2-induced changes in monoamine metabolite levels are modified by the unpredictable stress of social subordination and the 5HTTLPR polymorphism. Levels of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5HIAA) decreased significantly during chronic E2 treatment only in dominant females with the long promoter length of SLC6A4. Chronic administration of E2 decreased levels of the dopamine metabolite dihydrophenylacetic acid (DOPAC) in a manner independent of the social status, 5HTTLPR genotype, or their interactions. Overall levels of dopamine and serotonin metabolites were increased in subordinate females but this effect of social stress was not influenced by 5HTTLPR genotype. Together, these data emphasize how E2 can modulate central neurotransmitter systems and indicate that social subordination in female monkeys is a valid model for examining how chronic psychosocial stress alters sensitivity to E2. Future studies are necessary to elaborate how changes in central neurotransmitter metabolism due to E2 and prolonged exposure to stress affect behavior and physiology. © 2012 British Society for Neuroendocrinology.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology 12/2012; · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Social subordination in macaques is a well-established model to study the adverse effects of psychosocial stress on a number of health outcomes, including stress-induced eating. The present analysis was conducted to empirically define a meal among free-feeding female rhesus monkeys and to examine the roles of meal patterning (e.g., meal size, meal frequency, and snacking patterns) in findings from a previous study demonstrating that psychosocial stress increases overall caloric intake among subordinate animals with access to a highly palatable diet. Results indicate that all animals, regardless of social status, consumed more frequent meals, larger meals, and more calories in the form of snacks when a highly palatable diet was available. Additional findings suggest that subordinate animals consumed significantly larger meals compared to their dominant counterparts regardless of the dietary environment. Additionally, subordinate females with a history of exposure to the palatable diet consumed significantly more snack calories than both dominant and subordinate animals without previous exposure to the palatable diet when these females were returned to a standard laboratory diet. These findings illustrate how small changes in meal patterns can lead to significant increases in total caloric intake, which if prolonged, could promote the emergence of an obese phenotype.
    Appetite 11/2012; · 2.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of the present study was to examine how social subordination stress and 5HTT polymorphisms affect the development of brain serotonin (5HT) systems during the pubertal transition in female rhesus monkeys. We also examined associations with developmental changes in emotional reactivity in response to a standardized behavioral test, the Human Intruder (HI). Our findings provide the first longitudinal evidence of developmental increases in 5HT1A receptor and 5HTT binding in the brain of female primates from pre- to peripuberty. The increase in 5HT1A BP(ND) in these socially housed female rhesus monkeys is a robust finding, occurring across all groups, regardless of social status or 5HTT genotype, and occurring in left and right hemispheres of all prefrontal regions studied, as well as amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and raphe nuclei. 5HTT BP(ND) also showed an increase with age in raphe, anterior cingulate cortex, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These changes in brain 5HT systems take place as females establish more adult-like patterns of social behavior, as well as during the HI paradigm. Indeed, the main developmental changes in behavior during the HI (increase in freezing and decrease in submission/appeasement) were related to neurodevelopmental increases in 5HT1A receptors and 5HTT, because the associations between these behaviors and 5HT endpoints emerge at peripuberty. We detected an effect of social status on 5HT1A BP(ND) in the hypothalamus and on 5HTT BP(ND) in the orbitofrontal cortex, with subordinates showing higher BP(ND) than dominants in both cases during the pubertal transition. No main effects of 5HTT genotype were observed for 5HT1A or 5HTT BP(ND). Our findings indicate that adolescence in female rhesus monkeys is a period of central 5HT reorganization, partly influenced by exposure to the social stress of subordination, that likely functions to integrate adrenal and gonadal systems and shape the behavioral response to emotionally challenging social situations.
    Neuroscience 10/2012; · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Estrogen (E2) has activational effects on sexual motivation and mitigating effects on anxiety-like behaviors that can be attenuated with chronic exposure to psychosocial stress. Some studies suggest that this attenuation can be overcome by higher doses of E2, while others show that chronic psychosocial stress may alter the mechanisms of E2 function, thus reducing any positive benefit from higher doses of E2. To determine the interaction between psychosocial stress and E2 dose on behavior, we examined the scope of attenuation across a suite of socioemotional behaviors, including reproduction, affiliation, aggression, submission, and anxiety-like behaviors on 36 ovariectomized female rhesus monkeys. Females were exposed to graded psychosocial stress, established by an intrinsic female dominance hierarchy, where subordinate animals receive high amounts of harassment. Our data show that E2 dose-dependently increased sexual motivation and male-affiliation in dominant (e.g. low-stress) females, while subordinate females showed no positive effects of E2, even at higher doses. In addition, contact aggression was attenuated in dominant females, while non-contact aggression was attenuated in both dominant and middle-ranking females. These results suggest that the stress-induced attenuation of E2's activational effects on sexual behavior and affiliation with males may not be overcome with higher doses of E2. Furthermore, the observed behavioral consequences of psychosocial stress and E2 dose may be dependent on the behaviors of all the females in the social-group, and better resolution on these effects depends on isolating treatment to individuals within the group to minimize alterations in social-group interactions.
    Hormones and Behavior 10/2012; · 3.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Linear dominance hierarchies organize and maintain stability in female rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) social groups regardless of group size. As a consequence of their low social status, subordinate females suffer from an array of adverse outcomes including reproductive compromise, impaired immune function, and poor cardiovascular health. However, data that differentiate limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (LHPA) parameters between dominant from subordinate female monkeys are inconsistent, bringing into question whether social subordination alters the LHPA axis in female macaques. One difficulty in examining LHPA function in macaques may be the confounding effects of cycling ovarian steroids that are known to modulate LHPA activity. The current study used ovariectomized dominant and subordinate female rhesus monkeys to examine the effect that social subordination has on LHPA function by measuring morning and diurnal serum cortisol levels, dexamethasone (Dex) suppression of cortisol, metabolic clearance of Dex, and ACTH stimulation of adrenal cortisol release and cortisol response following exposure to acute social isolation. Compared to dominant females, subordinate females showed diminished morning peak cortisol secretion, weakened glucocorticoid negative feedback, and decreased adrenal cortisol response to an ACTH challenge as well as a restrained cortisol response following social isolation. However, the metabolism of Dex did not account for differences in Dex suppression between dominant and subordinate females. These results indicate that the ability to mount and limit glucocorticoid release is significantly reduced by psychosocial stress in female rhesus macaques, suggesting a hyporesponsive LHPA phenotype which resembles that observed in several human psychopathologies.
    Hormones and Behavior 08/2012; 62(4):389-99. · 3.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A cascade of neuroendocrine events regulates the initiation and progression of female puberty. However, the factors that determine the timing of these events across individuals are still uncertain. While the consequences of puberty on subsequent emotional development and adult behavior have received significant attention, what is less understood are the social and environmental factors that actually alter the initiation and progression of puberty. In order to more fully understand what factors influence pubertal timing in females, the present study quantified social and emotional behavior; stress physiology; and growth and activity measures in juvenile female rhesus monkeys to determine what best predicts eventual puberty. Based on previous reports, we hypothesized that increased agonistic behavior resulting from subordinate status in their natal group, in combination with slowed growth, reduced prosocial behavior, and increased emotional reactivity would predict delayed puberty. The analyses were restricted to behavioral and physiological measures obtained prior to the onset of puberty, defined as menarche. Together, our findings indicate that higher rates of aggression but lower rates of submission received from group mates; slower weight gain; and greater emotional reactivity, evidenced by higher anxiety, distress and appeasing behaviors, and lower cortisol responsivity in response to a potentially threatening situation, predicts delayed puberty. Together the combination of these variables accounted for 58% of the variance in the age of menarche, 71% in age at first ovulation, and 45% in the duration of adolescent sterility. While early puberty may be more advantageous for the individual from a fertility standpoint, it presents significant health risks, including increased risk for a number of estrogen dependent cancers and as well as the emergence of mood disorders during adulthood. On the other hand, it is possible that increased emotional reactivity associated with delayed puberty could persist, increasing the risk for emotional dysregulation to socially challenging situations. The data argue for prospective studies that will determine how emotional reactivity shown to be important for pubertal timing is affected by early social experience and temperament, and how these stress-related variables contribute to body weight accumulation, affecting the neuroendocrine regulation of puberty.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 06/2012; · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Variation in the social environment is a fundamental component of many vertebrate societies. In humans and other primates, adverse social environments often translate into lasting physiological costs. The biological mechanisms associated with these effects are therefore of great interest, both for understanding the evolutionary impacts of social behavior and in the context of human health. However, large gaps remain in our understanding of the mechanisms that mediate these effects at the molecular level. Here we addressed these questions by leveraging the power of an experimental system that consisted of 10 social groups of female macaques, in which each individual's social status (i.e., dominance rank) could be experimentally controlled. Using this paradigm, we show that dominance rank results in a widespread, yet plastic, imprint on gene regulation, such that peripheral blood mononuclear cell gene expression data alone predict social status with 80% accuracy. We investigated the mechanistic basis of these effects using cell type-specific gene expression profiling and glucocorticoid resistance assays, which together contributed to rank effects on gene expression levels for 694 (70%) of the 987 rank-related genes. We also explored the possible contribution of DNA methylation levels to these effects, and identified global associations between dominance rank and methylation profiles that suggest epigenetic flexibility in response to status-related behavioral cues. Together, these results illuminate the importance of the molecular response to social conditions, particularly in the immune system, and demonstrate a key role for gene regulation in linking the social environment to individual physiology.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2012; 109(17):6490-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: High-performance metabolic profiling (HPMP) by Fourier-transform mass spectrometry coupled to liquid chromatography gives relative quantification of thousands of chemicals in biologic samples but has had little development for use in toxicology research. In principle, the approach could be useful to detect complex metabolic response patterns to toxicologic exposures and to detect unusual abundances or patterns of potentially toxic chemicals. As an initial study to develop these possible uses, we applied HPMP and bioinformatics analysis to plasma of humans, rhesus macaques, marmosets, pigs, sheep, rats and mice to determine: (1) whether more chemicals are detected in humans living in a less controlled environment than captive species and (2) whether a subset of plasma chemicals with similar inter-species and intra-species variation could be identified for use in comparative toxicology. Results show that the number of chemicals detected was similar in humans (3221) and other species (range 2537-3373). Metabolite patterns were most similar within species and separated samples according to family and order. A total of 1485 chemicals were common to all species; 37% of these matched chemicals in human metabolomic databases and included chemicals in 137 out of 146 human metabolic pathways. Probability-based modularity clustering separated 644 chemicals, including many endogenous metabolites, with inter-species variation similar to intra-species variation. The remaining chemicals had greater inter-species variation and included environmental chemicals as well as GSH and methionine. Together, the data suggest that HPMP provides a platform that can be useful within human populations and controlled animal studies to simultaneously evaluate environmental exposures and biological responses to such exposures.
    Toxicology 02/2012; 295(1-3):47-55. · 4.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stress-induced eating disorders cause significant health problems and are often co-morbid with mood disorders. Emotional feeding, particularly in women, may be important for the development of obesity and failed attempts to lose weight. However, prospective studies assessing the effect of chronic psychosocial stress on appetite in different dietary environments in females are lacking. The present study tested the hypothesis that chronic psychosocial stress would increase consumption of high caloric diet and this emotional feeding would persist even when a healthier diet was available. Socially housed female rhesus monkeys were studied to address whether subordination increases caloric intake when a high fat and sugar diet (HFSD) was available concurrently with a low fat, high fiber diet (LCD). Cortisol responsivity and food intake were quantified during this choice phase and when only the LCD was available. The order of diet condition was counterbalanced to assess whether a history of HFSD would affect appetite. All females preferred the HFSD but subordinates consumed significantly more calories during the choice phase. The increased calorie intake was maintained in subordinate monkeys even after withdrawal of the HFSD. Subordinate females demonstrated reduced glucocorticoid negative feedback, with post dexamethasone serum cortisol levels significantly predicting intake of the HFSD but not the LCD during the choice condition. The cortisol response to an acute stressor significantly predicted subsequent intake of a HFSD in all females. Continual exposure to the psychosocial stress of subordination in female monkeys results in excess caloric intake of foods that mimic a western dietary environment. In addition, this social stressor interacts with a history of HFSD intake to promote increased feeding even in a healthy dietary environment.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 02/2012; 37(9):1479-90. · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Social subordination in female macaques is imposed by harassment and the threat of aggression and produces reduced control over one's social and physical environment and a dysregulation of the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis resembling that observed in people suffering from psychopathologies. These effects support the contention that this particular animal model is an ethologically relevant paradigm in which to investigate the etiology of stress-induced psychological illness related to women. Here, we sought to expand this model by performing a discriminate analysis (DA) on 33 variables within three domains; behavioral, metabolic/anthropomorphic, and neuroendocrine, collected from socially housed female rhesus monkeys in order to assess whether exposure to social subordination produces a distinct phenotype. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was also calculated to determine each domain's classification accuracy. DA found significant markers within each domain that differentiated dominant and subordinate females. Subordinate females received more aggression, showed more submissive behavior, and received less of affiliation from others than did dominant females. Metabolic differences included increased leptin, and reduced adiponectin in dominant compared to subordinate females. Dominant females exhibited increased sensitivity to hormonal stimulation with higher serum LH in response to estradiol, cortisol in response to ACTH, and increased glucocorticoid negative feedback. Serum oxytocin, CSF DOPAC and serum PACAP were all significantly higher in dominant females. ROC curve analysis accurately predicted social status in all three domains. Results suggest that socially house rhesus monkeys represent a cogent animal model in which to study the physiology and behavioral consequences of chronic psychosocial stress in humans.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 01/2012; 37(7):1071-85. · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Menopause in women occurs at mid-life. Chimpanzees, in contrast, continue to display cycles of menstrual bleeding and genital swelling, suggestive of ovulation, until near their maximum life span of about 60 years. Because ovulation was not confirmed hormonally, however, the age at which chimpanzees experience menopause has remained uncertain. In the present study, we provide hormonal data from urine samples collected from 30 female chimpanzees, of which 9 were old (>30 years), including 2 above the age of 50 years. Eight old chimpanzees showed clear endocrine evidence of ovulation, as well as cycles of genital swelling that correlated closely with measured endocrine changes. Endocrine evidence thus confirms prior observations (cyclic anogenital swelling) that menopause is a late-life event in the chimpanzee. We also unexpectedly discovered an idiopathic anovulation in some young and middle-aged chimpanzees; this merits further study. Because our results on old chimpanzees validate the use of anogenital swelling as a surrogate index of ovulation, we were able to combine data on swelling and urinary hormones to provide the first estimates of age-specific rates of menopause in chimpanzees. We conclude that menopause occurs near 50 years of age in chimpanzees as it does in women. Our finding identifies a basic difference between the human and chimpanzee aging processes: female chimpanzees can remain reproductively viable for a greater proportion of their life span than women. Thus, while menopause marks the end of the chimpanzee's life span, women may thrive for decades more.
    Age 12/2011; 34(5):1145-56. · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    Donna J Toufexis, Mark E Wilson
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    ABSTRACT: Here we used a within-subject design to evaluate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity following replacement of low and high physiological levels of testosterone (T) to adult, gonadally-suppressed, male rhesus macaques, and replacement with sex-specific low and high physiological doses of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the same adult males as well as in adult, gonadally-suppressed, female rhesus macaques. As indexes of HPA axis activation following T and DHT replacement, serum levels of cortisol (CORT) were measured before and following dexamethasone (DEX) inhibition, and corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) induced activation. Female monkeys were assessed for differences in response associated with dominant (DOM) and subordinate (SUB) social status. Data show that the high physiological dose of DHT significantly decreased basal CORT in both male and female monkeys irrespective of social status, but reduced CRF-stimulated CORT only in males. SUB female monkeys showed a trend towards increased CRF-stimulated CORT release under high-dose DHT replacement compared to DOM females or males given the same treatment, indicating that androgens likely have no influence on reducing HPA activation under chronic psychosocial stress in females. The normal circadian rhythm of CORT release was absent in placebo-replaced SUB and DOM females and was restored with low-dose DHT replacement. These results indicate that DHT significantly reduces CRF-stimulated CORT release only in male monkeys, and plays a role in maintaining circadian changes in CORT release in female monkeys.
    Brain research 10/2011; 1429:43-51. · 2.46 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

848 Citations
212.50 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2002–2014
    • Emory University
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • Center for Behavioural Neuroscience
      Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    • Georgia State University
      • Department of Biology
      Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 2009–2010
    • Wake Forest School of Medicine
      • Section on Comparative Medicine
      Winston-Salem, NC, United States
  • 2008
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Medicine
      Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 2005
    • Wisconsin National Primate Research Center
      Madison, Wisconsin, United States
  • 2003
    • University of Pittsburgh
      • Psychology
      Pittsburgh, PA, United States