Abstract # 71:

Scheduled for Friday, June 18, 2010 04:15 PM-04:25 PM: Session 15 (Medallion Ballroom A) Oral Presentation


RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN AGE, HYPOTHALAMIC-PITUITARY-ADRENAL (HPA) AXIS ACTIVITY, GENE POLYMORPHISMS, ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR, AND ALOPECIA IN A LARGE COLONY COHORT OF RHESUS MONKEYS (MACACA MULATTA)

B. J. Kelly1, K. M. Stonemetz1, J. A. Kramer1, C. A. Major1, K. G. Mansfield1, J. S. Meyer2, E. J. Vallender1, G. M. Miller1 and M. A. Novak1,2
1Harvard Medical School, NEPRC, One Pine Hill Drive, Southborough, MA 01772, USA, 2Psychology Department, Tobin Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
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Alopecia occurs in some captive nonhuman primates; however, little is known about its etiology or possible treatment. Although stress is commonly thought to be a leading cause of alopecia, a recent review (Novak & Meyer 2009) illustrates that hair loss has multiple causes including natural processes and biological dysfunction. We examined the incidence of alopecia in individually housed rhesus monkeys at the NEPRC [N=718; 401 males and 317 females] across 2008 and 2009. Alopecia was observed equally in both sexes and affected 11.56% of the colony. We then explored the relationships between age, behavior, mu-opioid receptor genotype (OPRM1), and hair cortisol in a subset of monkeys with 0, 1, or 2 bouts of alopecia across the two years. Monkeys having 2 bouts (“chronic” alopecia) were older than monkeys having either 0 [t(277)=-5.68; P<0.001] or 1 bout [t(105)=-3.10; P<0.01]. Accounting for age, we observed a significant interaction between OPRM1 and alopecia on the incidence of abnormal behavior [ANCOVA: F(2,132)=5.57; P<0.01]; monkeys with chronic alopecia and at least one copy of the g-allele of OPRM1 gene displayed higher frequencies of abnormal behaviors. There was no overall relationship between cortisol and alopecia. Elevated stress does not appear to contribute to alopecia in NEPRC monkeys; however, aging and OPRM1 genotype may play a role in the incidence of alopecia in some monkeys. Supported by NCRR grants #RR011122 and #RR00168.