The biology of aging in a social world: Insights from free-ranging rhesus macaques

Laura E. Newman, Camille Testard, Alex R. DeCasien, Kenneth L. Chiou, Marina M. Watowich, Mareike C. Janiak, Melissa A. Pavez-Fox, Mitchell R. Sanchez Rosado, Eve B. Cooper, Christina E. Costa, Rachel M. Petersen, Cayo Biobank Research Unit, Michael J. Montague, Michael L. Platt, Lauren J.N. Brent, Noah Snyder-Mackler, James P. Higham

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Social adversity can increase the age-associated risk of disease and death, yet the biological mechanisms that link social adversities to aging remain poorly understood. Long-term naturalistic studies of nonhuman animals are crucial for integrating observations of social behavior throughout an individual's life with detailed anatomical, physiological, and molecular measurements. Here, we synthesize the body of research from one such naturalistic study system, Cayo Santiago, which is home to the world's longest continuously monitored free-ranging population of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). We review recent studies of age-related variation in morphology, gene regulation, microbiome composition, and immune function. We also discuss ecological and social modifiers of age-markers in this population. In particular, we summarize how a major natural disaster, Hurricane Maria, affected rhesus macaque physiology and social structure and highlight the context-dependent and domain-specific nature of aging modifiers. Finally, we conclude by providing directions for future study, on Cayo Santiago and elsewhere, that will further our understanding of aging across different domains and how social adversity modifies aging processes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number105424
    JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
    StatePublished - Nov 2023


    • Aging
    • Cayo Santiago
    • Primate
    • Senescence
    • Social behavior

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
    • Cognitive Neuroscience
    • Behavioral Neuroscience


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