Psychopharmacology

, Volume 146, Issue 4, pp 440–446 | Cite as

CSF 5-HIAA and aggression in female macaque monkeys: species and interindividual differences

  • G. C. Westergaard
  • P. T. Mehlman
  • G. C. Westergaard
  • S. J. Suomi
  • J. D. Higley
Original Investigation

Abstract 

Rationale: While the relationship among CSF 5-HIAA, impulsivity, and aggression is well characterized in males, its investigation in females is limited, and no studies have assessed its generalizability across primates by making simultaneous comparisons between and within closely-related species. Objectives: We tested three hypotheses. First, that female rhesus macaques would have lower CSF 5-HIAA concentrations and be more aggressive than would female pigtailed macaques. Second, that females of both macaque species would exhibit an inverse relationship between interindividual differences in CSF 5-HIAA concentrations and rates of severe aggression. Third, that subjects with high CSF 5-HIAA concentrations would be higher in social dominance within their respective groups than would subjects with low CSF 5-HIAA concentrations. Methods: We obtained CSF samples from 61 individually housed female primates of two closely related species: rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina). We later placed subjects in unisex social groups, and correlated interindividual differences in CSF 5-HIAA with aggression, wounding, and acquisition of social dominance rank. Results: Between-species analyses indicated higher CSF 5-HIAA concentrations in pigtailed macaques, and higher rates of high-intensity aggression, escalated aggression, and wounds requiring medical treatment in rhesus macaques. Within-species analyses indicated that interindividual differences in CSF 5-HIAA concentrations were inversely correlated with escalated aggression and positively correlated with social dominance rank. Conclusions: These findings show that agonistic and social differences between closely-related species are correlated with CNS serotonin activity, as species that show relatively high rates of severe aggression also tend to have low concentrations of CSF 5-HIAA. We conclude that serotonergic functioning plays an important role in controlling impulses that regulate severe aggression and social dominance relationships in both male and female primates, and that between-species differences in agonistic temperament can be predicted by species typical CNS serotonin functioning.

Key words Aggression Female Impulsivity Primates Serotonin Social dominance 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. C. Westergaard
    • 1
  • P. T. Mehlman
    • 1
  • G. C. Westergaard
    • 1
  • S. J. Suomi
    • 2
  • J. D. Higley
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Research, LABS of Virginia, Inc., 95 Castle Hall Road, P.O. Box 557, Yemassee, SC 29945, USA e-mail: gwprimate@aol.com, Fax: +1-843-589-5290US
  2. 2.Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health Animal Centre, P.O. Box 529, Poolesville, MD 20837, USAUS
  3. 3.Laboratory of Clinical Studies, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health Animal Centre, P.O. Box 529, Poolesville, MD 20837, USAUS

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