Abstract # 169:

Scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 17 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation

The effects of sedation and research protocol on chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) fecal cortisol levels

C. Grassi1,2, E. J. Glover1 and M. Vazquez1
1Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, PO Box 760549, Texas 78245-0549, USA, 2Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
     Recently, researchers have begun utilizing endocrine data to evaluate potential stressors on nonhuman primates. The stress hormone, cortisol, can be effectively measured non-invasively using feces, which quantifies long-term, metabolized, adrenal activity and is effective for evaluating psychological and physiological stressors. This study investigated the response of two adult male chimpanzees to a protocol that required multiple sedation events. 28 fecal samples were collected for each male (9 baseline, 10 protocol, 9 follow-up). Collections occurred at 7:00 am, prior to any sedation. These samples were sent to the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center for enzyme immunoassay. Data were tested for individual variation. Since cortisol levels did not differ between males, data were pooled. Although sedation often results in peaks of cortisol secretion, in this study, fecal cortisol levels (ng/g) were lowest during the protocol period (ANOVA: F(2, 53)=10.4, p<0.001) and negatively correlated with time in single housing (Spearman Rho r=-0.42, p<0.01). These unexpected results may be explained by a number of factors: 1) During the protocol period these males were exposed to an antiviral drug. No studies have yet documented the effects of antivirals on adrenal activity. 2) These males also may have been adjusting to a single housing environment. This study indicates the need for baseline species hormonal profiles, and further investigations into the effects of sedation and drug therapies on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.