Psychological factors capable of preventing the inhibition of antibody responses in separated infant monkeys

Child Dev. 1987 Dec;58(6):1420-30.


The capacity of infant squirrel monkeys to mount an antibody response to viral challenge was evaluated after removal from their mothers in several social and physical environments. Control and separated infants were injected with a benign virus, the bacteriophage X174, and levels of neutralizing antibody were assessed for 3 weeks. Infants separated alone in an unfamiliar environment showed a significant reduction in antibody levels as compared to control infants. Allowing infants to remain in the home environment, either alone or with peers, prevented this inhibition of antibody responses from occurring. Similarly, providing familiar peers in the novel environment facilitated the normal expression of antibody responses. These results indicate that the trauma of maternal separation is significantly reduced when infants are familiar with the separation environment or familiar social companions are available. The reduced antibody response was associated with the highest level of adrenal activation induced by the unfamiliar separation condition, but antibody titers and plasma cortisol levels could not be specifically correlated in individual infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation*
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Bacteriophage phi X 174 / immunology
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Maternal Deprivation*
  • Saimiri
  • Social Environment
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Complement System Proteins
  • Hydrocortisone