Immune cell composition varies by age, sex and exposure to social adversity in free-ranging Rhesus Macaques

Cayo Biobank Research Unit

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Increasing age is associated with dysregulated immune function and increased inflammation—patterns that are also observed in individuals exposed to chronic social adversity. Yet we still know little about how social adversity impacts the immune system and how it might promote age-related diseases. Here, we investigated how immune cell diversity varied with age, sex and social adversity (operationalized as low social status) in free-ranging rhesus macaques. We found age-related signatures of immunosenescence, including lower proportions of CD20 + B cells, CD20 + /CD3 + ratio, and CD4 + /CD8 + T cell ratio – all signs of diminished antibody production. Age was associated with higher proportions of CD3 + /CD8 + Cytotoxic T cells, CD16 + /CD3- Natural Killer cells, CD3 + /CD4 + /CD25 + and CD3 + /CD8 + /CD25 + T cells, and CD14 + /CD16 + /HLA-DR + intermediate monocytes, and lower levels of CD14 + /CD16-/HLA-DR + classical monocytes, indicating greater amounts of inflammation and immune dysregulation. We also found a sex-dependent effect of exposure to social adversity (i.e., low social status). High-status males, relative to females, had higher CD20 + /CD3 + ratios and CD16 + /CD3 Natural Killer cell proportions, and lower proportions of CD8 + Cytotoxic T cells. Further, low-status females had higher proportions of cytotoxic T cells than high-status females, while the opposite was observed in males. High-status males had higher CD20 + /CD3 + ratios than low-status males. Together, our study identifies the strong age and sex-dependent effects of social adversity on immune cell proportions in a human-relevant primate model. Thus, these results provide novel insights into the combined effects of demography and social adversity on immunity and their potential contribution to age-related diseases in humans and other animals.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2107-2122
    Number of pages16
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 2024


    • Age
    • Immunosenescence
    • Inflammation
    • Sex-differences
    • Social adversity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Aging
    • veterinary (miscalleneous)
    • Complementary and alternative medicine
    • Geriatrics and Gerontology
    • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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