Social and individual factors, separately and in interaction, affect gene expression in immunodeficient rhesus monkeys

John Cap­i­tanio, PhD, Research Psy­chol­o­gist, Depart­ment of Psy­chol­ogy, Cal­i­for­nia National Pri­mate Research Cen­ter, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis   Web­site  |  Pub­li­ca­tions

Abstract: From early in the AIDS epi­demic, stress (and par­tic­u­larly socially-induced stress) has been sug­gested as con­tribut­ing neg­a­tively to the progress of the dis­ease.  We have been explor­ing the role of social stress in an ani­mal model of AIDS.  Social stress does indeed result in altered phys­i­o­log­i­cal func­tion­ing and pat­terns of gene expres­sion, espe­cially in lym­phoid tis­sue, but we’ve also found that indi­vid­u­als dif­fer in their abil­ity to cope with social stress.  The prin­ci­pal indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ence fac­tor that we have been explor­ing is Socia­bil­ity, a major per­son­al­ity dimen­sion in human and non­hu­man pri­mates that rep­re­sents a ten­dency to affil­i­ate.  Ani­mals low in Socia­bil­ity seem to have pat­terns of inner­va­tion of lym­phoid tis­sue that are per­mis­sive for viral growth and repro­duc­tion.  Not sur­pris­ingly, it is these ani­mals that appear to be most at-risk in socially stress­ful cir­cum­stances.  Our data sug­gest that health con­se­quences of social stress are influ­enced by char­ac­ter­is­tics of the indi­vid­ual, and that more atten­tion should be paid to person-by-situation inter­ac­tions in under­stand­ing health and disease.

Bio: John Cap­i­tanio is a Research Psy­chol­o­gist in the Depart­ment of Psy­chol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, and a Staff Sci­en­tist at the Cal­i­for­nia National Pri­mate Research Cen­ter.  He received his Ph.D. in Com­par­a­tive Psy­chol­ogy from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis in 1982, and was a post­doc­toral researcher in Devel­op­men­tal Psy­chobi­ol­ogy in the Dept. of Psy­chi­a­try at the Uni­ver­sity of Col­orado Health Sci­ences Cen­ter.  He is a Past-President of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Pri­ma­tol­o­gists, a recip­i­ent of the Patri­cia R. Bar­chas Award in Socio­phys­i­ol­ogy from the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­so­matic Soci­ety, a Fel­low of the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion and the Asso­ci­a­tion for Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence, and in 2012, Dr. Cap­i­tanio received the Dis­tin­guished Pri­ma­tol­o­gist Award from the Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Pri­ma­tol­o­gists.  Dr. Capitanio’s research inter­ests are focused on the causes and con­se­quences of indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in pri­mate biobe­hav­ioral orga­ni­za­tion, par­tic­u­larly with respect to health-related outcomes.