The Influence of Social Hierarchy on Primate Health

Departments of Biological Sciences, Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University, MC 5020, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 05/2005; 308(5722):648-52. DOI: 10.1126/science.1106477
Source: PubMed


Dominance hierarchies occur in numerous social species, and rank within them can greatly influence the quality of life of an animal. In this review, I consider how rank can also influence physiology and health. I first consider whether it is high- or low-ranking animals that are most stressed in a dominance hierarchy; this turns out to vary as a function of the social organization in different species and populations. I then review how the stressful characteristics of social rank have adverse adrenocortical, cardiovascular, reproductive, immunological, and neurobiological consequences. Finally, I consider how these findings apply to the human realm of health, disease, and socioeconomic status.

    • "cortisol in primates, divert energy from storage, thereby providing readily available energetic resources for coping with an acute stressor. However, chronic exposure to stressors and secretion of GCs are associated with a host of adverse health effects including decreased immune function, cardiovascular disease, and reduced reproductive output (Sapolsky 2005;Tamashiro et al. 2005). The concept of allostasis (McEwen and Wingfield 2003;Wingfield 2005) and the related Reactive Scope Model (Romero et al. 2009) provide conceptual frameworks for understanding the seemingly contradictory costs and benefits of GC excretion in response to stressors. "
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    ABSTRACT: Early life experiences are known to influence hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis development, which can impact health outcomes through the individual's ability to mount appropriate physiological reactions to stressors. In primates, these early experiences are most often mediated through the mother and can include the physiological environment experienced during gestation. Here, we investigate stress physiology of dependent offspring in wild chimpanzees for the first time and examine whether differences in maternal stress physiology are related to differences in offspring stress physiology. Specifically, we explore the relationship between maternal rank and maternal fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentration during pregnancy and early lactation (first 6 months post-partum) and examine whether differences based on maternal rank are associated with dependent offspring FGM concentrations. We found that low-ranking females exhibited significantly higher FGM concentrations during pregnancy than during the first 6 months of lactation. Furthermore, during pregnancy, low-ranking females experienced significantly higher FGM concentrations than high-ranking females. As for dependent offspring, we found that male offspring of low-ranking mothers experienced stronger decreases in FGM concentrations as they aged compared to males with high-ranking mothers or their dependent female counterparts. Together, these results suggest that maternal rank and FGM concentrations experienced during gestation are related to offspring stress physiology and that this relationship is particularly pronounced in males compared to females. Importantly, this study provides the first evidence for maternal effects on the development of offspring HPA function in wild chimpanzees, which likely relates to subsequent health and fitness outcomes. Am. J. Primatol. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · American Journal of Primatology
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    • "Una primera explicación del impacto negativo en el bienestar y salud es el efecto directo de la pertenencia a clases sociales bajas. En estudios del efecto psicológico del bajo estatus social en primates no humanos (Sapolsky, 2005) y en humanos (Ng & Diener, 2014), se ha encontrado un efecto negativo en la salud y el bienestar. Las clases bajas tienen peor salud física, mental, menor balanza afectiva y bienestar eudaimónico (Cooper, McCausland, y Theodossiou, 2013; Myers & Diener, 1995). "
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    ABSTRACT: Este capítulo revisa la relación entre desigualdad y bienestar. Se describe y contrasta la sensibilidad de los indices de inequidad Gini y Palma, siendo ambos similares. Se describen los estudios y argumentaciones que plantean que la desigualdad se asocia a más problemas de salud y sociales, porque implica que mayor cantidad de personas vivan en condiciones sociales negativas, porque aumenta la comparación social negativa, privación relativa, ira, ansiedad y malestar, y porque socava la cohesión social. Se revisan los estudios que encuentran relación débil o positiva al controlar la riqueza nacional entre desigualdad y bienestar, y que argumentan que la desigualdad se asocia a mayor cultura individualista de libertad y autonomía personal o perspectiva de movilidad social. Un estudio colectivo con 77 naciones examina la relación entre desigualdad e IDH, indicadores de cohesión social, de percepción de libertad, de valores y prácticas individualistas-colectivistas y bienestar. Correlaciones parciales, regresión y análisis de mediación muestran que la desigualdad se asocia a mayor bienestar, controlando la riqueza. La desigualdad se asocia a menor riqueza, peor calidad de vida, negativa pero no significativamente a menor cohesión, positivamente a mayor libertad, y negativamente a individualismo cultural. Se concluye que la desigualdad, una vez controlada la riqueza ya que se asocia a menores ingresos nacionales, se vincula a mayor bienestar, por reforzar la percepción de libertad y pese a reforzar prácticas y valores colectivistas. Los valores individualistas refuerzan el bienestar, probablemente por menor nepotismo endogrupal y mayor libertad, aunque no porque se den en sociedades más desiguales.
    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2016
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    • "From an evolutionary perspective the ability to respond to adverse environmental circumstances would require more rapid growth, early reproductive capacity and mobilisation of metabolic resources. Both animal studies and limited human evidence suggest inter-play between the stress and reproductive axis with development being a crucial intermediary step in survival (Fitzgerald et al., 1996; Macadams et al., 1986; Robert M Sapolsky, 1985; Robert M. Sapolsky, 2005). We tested our hypotheses using data from a British birth cohort study which benefits from measures of the reproductive (testosterone ), somatotrophic (insulin-like growth factor-I, IGF-I), and stress axis (cortisol). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Little is known about how socioeconomic position (SEP) across life impacts on different axes of the endocrine system which are thought to underlie the ageing process and its adverse consequences. We examined how indicators of SEP across life related to multiple markers of the endocrine system in late midlife, and hypothesized that lower SEP across life would be associated with an adverse hormone profile across multiple axes. Methods: Data were from a British cohort study of 875 men and 905 women followed since their birth in March 1946 with circulating free testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) measured at both 53 and 60-64 years, and evening cortisol at 60-64 years. Indicators of SEP were ascertained prospectively across life-paternal occupational class at 4, highest educational attainment at 26, household occupational class at 53, and household income at 60-64 years. Associations between SEP and hormones were investigated using multiple regression and logistic regression models. Results: Lower SEP was associated with lower free testosterone among men, higher free testosterone among women, and lower IGF-I and higher evening cortisol in both sexes. For example, the mean standardised difference in IGF-I comparing the lowest with the highest educational attainment at 26 years (slope index of inequality) was -0.4 in men (95% CI -0.7 to -0.2) and -0.4 in women (-0.6 to -0.2). Associations with each hormone differed by SEP indicator used and sex, and were particularly pronounced when using a composite adverse hormone score. For example, the odds of having 1 additional adverse hormone concentration in the lowest compared with highest education level were 3.7 (95% CI: 2.1, 6.3) among men, and 1.6 (1.0, 2.7) among women (P (sex interaction) = 0.02). We found no evidence that SEP was related to apparent age-related declines in free testosterone or IGF-I. Conclusions: Lower SEP was associated with an adverse hormone profile across multiple endocrine axes. SEP differences in endocrine function may partly underlie inequalities in health and function in later life, and may reflect variations in biological rates of ageing. Further studies are required to assess the likely functional relevance of these associations.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Social Science [?] Medicine
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