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Behavioral inhibition in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) is related to the airways response, but not immune measures, commonly associated with asthma.

  • Author(s): Chun, Katie
  • Miller, Lisa A
  • Schelegle, Edward S
  • Hyde, Dallas M
  • Capitanio, John P
  • et al.
Abstract

Behavioral inhibition reflects a disposition to react warily to novel situations, and has been associated with atopic diseases such as asthma. Retrospective work established the relationship between behavioral inhibition in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and airway hyperresponsiveness, but not atopy, and the suggestion was made that behavioral inhibition might index components of asthma that are not immune-related. In the present study, we prospectively examined the relationship between behavioral inhibition and airway hyperresponsiveness, and whether hormonal and immune measures often associated with asthma were associated with behavioral inhibition and/or airway hyperresponsiveness. In a sample of 49 yearling rhesus monkeys (mean=1.25 years, n=24 behaviorally inhibited animals), we measured in vitro cytokine levels (IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, IFN-γ) in response to stimulation, as well as peripheral blood cell percentages, cortisol levels, and percentage of regulatory T-cells (CD3+CD4+CD25+FOXP3+). Airway reactivity was assessed using an inhaled methacholine challenge. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed and the proportion of immune cells was determined. Behaviorally inhibited monkeys had airway hyperresponsiveness as indicated by the methacholine challenge (p=0.031), confirming our earlier retrospective result. Airway hyperresponsiveness was also associated with lower lymphocyte percentages in lavage fluid and marginally lower plasma cortisol concentrations. However, none of the tested measures was significantly related to both behavioral inhibition and airway hyperresponsiveness, and so could not mediate their relationship. Airway hyperresponsiveness is common to atopic and non-atopic asthma and behavioral inhibition has been related to altered autonomic activity in other studies. Our results suggest that behavioral inhibition might index an autonomically mediated reactive airway phenotype, and that a variety of stimuli (including inflammation within lung tissue that is not specifically associated with behavioral inhibition) may trigger the airways response.

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