Evaluating noninvasive markers of nonhuman primate immune activation and inflammation

James P. Higham, Cornelia Kraus, Christiane Stahl-Hennig, Antje Engelhardt, Dietmar Fuchs, Michael Heistermann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives Health, disease, and immune function are key areas of research in studies of ecology and evolution, but work on free-ranging primates has been inhibited by a lack of direct noninvasive measures of condition. Here, we evaluate the potential usefulness of noninvasive measurement of three biomarkers, the acute-phase proteins C-reactive protein (CRP) and haptoglobin, and neopterin, a by-product of macrophage activity. Materials and Methods We took advantage of veterinary checks on captive rhesus (24) and long-tailed (3) macaques at the German Primate Center (DPZ) to analyze serum marker measures, before measuring concentrations in feces and urine, and evaluating relationships between matched serum, urine, and fecal concentrations. In a second study, we monitored excretion of these markers in response to simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection and surgical tissue trauma, undertaken for a separate study. Results We found that each biomarker could be measured in each matrix. Serum and urinary concentrations of neopterin were strongly and significantly correlated, but neither haptoglobin nor CRP concentrations in excreta proxied circulating serum concentrations. Our infection study confirmed that urinary neopterin, in particular, is a reliable marker of viral infection in macaques, but also indicated the potential of urinary and fecal CRP and haptoglobin as indicators of inflammation. Discussion We highlight the potential of noninvasive markers of immune function, especially of urinary neopterin, which correlates strongly with serum neopterin, and is highly responsive to infection.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)673-684
    Number of pages12
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


    • body condition
    • disease
    • feces
    • health
    • urine

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anatomy
    • Anthropology


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