Effects of social factors on adrenal weight and related physiology of Macaca fascicularis

Physiol Behav. 1984 Nov;33(5):777-82. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(84)90047-7.


Increased adrenal cortical activity and hypertrophy of adrenal glands associated with defeat and social subordination have been reported frequently in small mammals; these adrenal changes have been linked to impairments in immune response, glucose metabolism and reproductive performance. Similar studies in primates have produced variable results. The current study was undertaken to illuminate the effects of social status on the adrenal gland and to examine concurrent effects of social variables on other physiological systems in Macaca fascicularis, in an initial exploration of the hypothesis that high and low social status have different physiological consequences. Sixty adult male M. fascicularis were housed in social groups of n = 5, under either stable or unstable social conditions. It was found that subordinate animals had heavier adrenal glands and somewhat higher plasma glucose concentrations than dominants. In contrast, dominants had higher blood pressure and worsened atherosclerosis, under some conditions, than subordinates. These data appear to offer preliminary support for Henry and Stephen's hypothesis of differential arousal of dominant and subordinate animals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / physiology*
  • Aggression / physiology
  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / psychology*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Lemuridae
  • Macaca
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Social Dominance*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology


  • Blood Glucose