Elevated neopterin levels in wild, healthy chimpanzees indicate constant investment in unspecific immune system
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Background: Ecological immunology proposes that the optimal immune defence, and the costs coming with it, vary across environments. In environments with higher pathogen load, the immune system should experience greater challenges and, therefore, investment in maintaining it should be higher. The biomarker neopterin allows monitoring of innate immune responses, and is therefore an ideal tool to investigate the effects of ecological variables on the immune system. Here, we compared urinary neopterin levels of apparently healthy chimpanzees without acute symptoms of sickness across two environments: In captivity (22 zoos) and in the wild (two populations). Results: Our results revealed that urinary neopterin levels were nearly twice as high in wild compared to captive chimpanzees, independent of chimpanzee subspecies. Conclusion: We conclude that wild chimpanzees experience more frequent immune challenges in comparison to captive individuals. Therefore, wild individuals have to allocate more energy to immune function and away from reproduction and growth. Our data indicate that the generally delayed development of wild animals in comparison to captive individuals might not only be related to lower energy intake but might result from greater energy allocations to immune function. Finally, our data highlight the importance of understanding immune costs for accurate characterization of energy budgets in animals.
Behringer , V , Stevens , J M G , Wittig , R M , Crockford , C , Zuberbühler , K , Leendertz , F H & Deschner , T 2019 , ' Elevated neopterin levels in wild, healthy chimpanzees indicate constant investment in unspecific immune system ' , BMC Zoology , vol. 4 , 2 . https://doi.org/10.1186/s40850-019-0041-1
Copyright © The Author(s). 2019. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
DescriptionFunding was provided by Max Planck Society as well as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and conducted as part of the research group “Sociality and Health in Primates” (FOR2136, DE 1135/2–1 and LE1813/10–1). CC received funding from, the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No 679787).
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