EUPRIM-Net Courses on general primate biology

Course PrimBio 13/10
Stress and its Implication on Primate Welfare

Course Schedule:

Monday, 13.10.
08:15 am Registration
09:00 Welcome, Information about EUPRIM-Net and the Course Series
Eckhard Heymann, Deike Terruhn
  „Please, introduce yourself!“ - making your acquaintance
10:00 History and development of the stress concept (Handout)
(Jaap Koolhaas, University of Groningen, Netherlands)
10:45 Coffee Break
11:00 Physiology of the stress response (Handout)
(Sietse de Boer, University of Groningen, Netherlands)
12:30 Lunch Break at DPZ
02:00 pm Neurobiology of the stress response (Abstract) (Handout)
(Eberhard Fuchs, DPZ, Göttingen, Germany)
03:30 Coffee Break
Stress response of the immune system (Abstract) (Handout)
(Volker Stefanski, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany)
05:00 End of Session
05:15 Movie in the DPZ lecture hall
06:30 Dinner at DPZ*
Tuesday, 14.10.
09:00 am Individual variability and sex differences in the stress response (Handout)
(Alessandro Bartolomucci, University of Parma, Italy)
10:30 Coffee Break
Group Photograph
11:00 Temporal dynamics of the stress response (Handout)
(Sietse de Boer, University of Groningen, Netherlands)
12:30 Lunch Break at University Cafeteria**
02:00 pm Adaptive versus maladaptive nature of the stress response and animal welfare (Handout)
(Jaap Koolhaas, University of Groningen, Netherlands)
03:30 Coffee Break
03:45 Coping with stress (Handout)
(Jaap Koolhaas, University of Groningen, Netherlands)
05:00 End of Session
  Transfer: Bus No. 5 from “Kellnerweg” to “Markt” at 5:09 or 5:39
06:00 Guided City Tour / Town of Göttingen (optional)
07:30 Dinner in the "Kartoffelhaus" (optional)**
Wednesday, 15.10.
09:00 am Stress in the wild (Handout)
(Martin Muller, University of New Mexico, USA)
10:30 Coffee Break
11:00 Is housing stressful?
Influence of animal technicians working style
Stress in consequences of transportation
(Christian Schnell, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland)
12:30 Lunch Break at University Cafeteria**
02:00 pm Stress of zoo housed apes (Abstract) (Handout part1, part2)
(Verena Behringer, University of Gießen, Germany)
02:45 Non-invasive endocrine assessment of stress in primates: methodological aspects and validation (Handout)
(Michael Heistermann, DPZ, Göttingen, Germany)
03:15 Coffee Break
03:30 4 slots à 10 minutes for participants to present their home situation
04:15 Guided Tour through the DPZ Facilities
afterwards Coffee Break
05:30 End of Session
Thursday, 16.10.
09:00 am Stress hormone receptors in the primate brain (Abstract) (Handout)
(Chris Pryce, Basel, Switzerland)
10:30 Coffee Break
11:00 Stress and its impact on behaviour and cognition (Abstract) (Handout)
(Chris Pryce, Basel, Switzerland)
12:30 Closing Remarks
01:00 pm Lunch Break at University Cafeteria**
02:00 pm Optional Exam (1 hour)
  *Extra Cost for Dinner (15 € - has to be booked and paid on the first day of course if you like to participate)
  **Not included in the course fee

Subject to modifications.



Neurobiology of the stress response
Eberhard Fuchs, DPZ, Göttingen, Germany

The brain is the key organ of the response to stress. It reacts in a complex, orchestrated manner that is related to the activation / inhibition of structures involved in sensory, motor, autonomic, cognitive and emotional processes. Thus, the brain finally determines what is threatening and, therefore, potentially stressful, as well as the physiological and behavioral responses which can be either adaptive or maladaptive.

Within the brain neuronal circuits that respond to stress are strongly dependent on the type of stressor. Even in the mature differentiated central nervous system neurons and glia cells undergo permanent dynamic changes. The resulting structural plasticity of the brain, its ability to change and to respond reversibly to environmental challenges has been exemplified on the hippocampal formation, a brain structure important for learning, memory, emotional processing, and involved in the control of vegetative and autonomic circuits. The effects of stress on the hippocampal formation seem to range from initial deficits in cognitive and memory function, possibly mediate by a significant and reversible retraction of apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons in the CA3 region, to an increased vulnerability to metabolic insults, reduced neurogenesis and reversible reduction of the hippocampal volume as a whole.

The effects of stress on central nervous processes in non-human primates are demonstrated by studies performed in marmoset monkeys antenatally over-exposed to the synthetic glucocorticoid hormone dexamethasone and in rhesus monkeys derived from stress pregnancies. Our findings indicate that the prenatal environment affects behavior, dysregulates neuroendocrine systems, and influences the brain (hippocampus) of non-human primates.

Stress response of the immune system
Volker Stefanski, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany

The immune system is the major defence system in vertebrates, fighting bacterial, viral, and parasite infection. However, the immune system does not only react to pathogens but is also very sensitive to many other environmental influences. During the past three decades, it became increasingly clear that also social and non-social stressors can substantially alter the activity of the immune system in mammals. The highly complex immune system consists of innate and adaptive, as well as of humoral and cellular components. These various levels are an important aspect for stress studies, since a certain stressor can have a quite differential impact on different immune subsystems. Acute social stress in rodents, for example, often suppresses specific immune functions such as the ability of lymphocytes to react to an external challenge (e.g. lymphocyte proliferation), while in contrast, many aspects of the innate immunity such as numbers of granulocytes in the blood and phagocytic activity are often enhanced under these conditions.
Primarily based on examples of small mammals, I shall illustrate (1) some of the typical effects of social stressors on the immune system in wild and captive animals, (2) the modulatory role of individual factors such as previous experience on the immunological outcome, (3) main principles of the underlying neuroendocrine-immune network, and (4) the potential consequences of stress-induced immune modulation for disease susceptibility.

Walking into the new enclosure – apes were relocated without anaesthesia within the Zoological Garden Frankfurt
Verena Behringer, Dept. Ethology, Animalphysiology Institution, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany
Even in zoos, animals must move out sometimes. Relocation into different enclosures is always a stressful event in an animal’s life. Usually, the animals are calmed by sedatives or narcotic in order to lower the risk during transport for the animal and for the human. However, individuals that are old, ill or have babies may have problems due to anaesthesia.
The stress for an animal when relocated should be reduced to the lowest. Stress can be measured in the amount of stress hormones in the animal’s body. The announced talk will first present a technique to collect stress hormones in great apes (Bonobos, Orangutans and Gorillas) in a non-invasive way. Secondly, stressful events will be exemplified. At last, we will see behind the curtain of the specific relocation of the great apes in the zoo Frankfurt. 26 great apes moved into their new enclosure without any anaesthesia. Did the relocation stress the animals without being calmed down? Can anaesthesia decrease the stress in the animal when relocated?
Stress hormone receptors in the primate brain
Christopher Pryce, Basel, Switzerland
The corticosteroid hormones are major modulators of the gene expression that maintains homeostasis and enables responses to environmental stressors. Corticosteroids achieve these functions by binding to their receptors, of which there are two types, the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). The MR is expressed in specific cell types in specific organs, whereas the GR is expressed throughout the body. Both MR and GR are expressed in the brain, and both exhibit important polymorphisms. MR and GR are intra-cellular transcription-factor receptors, and are also membrane-bound. Most of our knowledge about the ontogeny, distrubtion and functions of MR and GR in the brain is derived from rodent studies. Although there is a high level of homology between non-primate mammals and primates in this respect, there are also some important differences, e.g. relatively high levels of MR and GR expression in the neocortex relative to limbic regions, in primates versus non-primate mammals. This means that detailed understanding of stress hormone regulation of the primate brain requires primate studies. Under conditions of homeostasis and acute stress, the levels of corticosteroid hormones that can be measured in physiological fluids, e.g. CSF, blood, urine, very probably provide an accurate indirect estimate of MR and GR binding and activation. However, under conditions of chronic stress and high corticosteroid levels, as can be experienced at different stages of the life span, there is increasing evidence for development of MR and GR insensitivity to corticosteroids. Under these circumstances, studies at the receptor level are essential to biomedical understanding of the role of stress hormones in health and disease.
Stress and its impact on behaviour and cognition
Christopher Pryce, Basel, Switzerland
Stress is considered to be one of the major determinants of mental state in all mammals, but understanding the neuropsychological processes involved in, and the underlying causal neurobiological mechanisms of, this stress-mental state relationship is extremely complex. Progress is dependent on breaking the complexity down into well-defined entities. Neuropsychological entities that are affected by stress include sensitivity to reward, sensitivity to aversive stimuli, attention and memory. Methods for the study and measurement of these processes have traditionally been very different in non-primate mammals (e.g. mouse, rat), non-human primates (e.g. common marmoset and rhesus macaque), and humans. However, using psychological test paradigms that are consistent across species, there are now a number of examples which demonstrate that it is possible to study important neuropsychological processes in a translational manner. This translational approach allows for extrapolation of findings between species, and highlights both the similarities and differences between species. Another important consideration in the study of stress and behaviour is that neuropsychological tests require training and, because stress can inhibit learning, it is important that the conditions of training and testing minimize stress. Here, procedures such as home cage training and testing can be beneficial. With regard to neurobiological mechanisms, it is important to differentiate between acute stress versus chronic stress in terms of their effects on behaviour and cognition: this is true with respect to primate well-being and welfare, as well as to specific studies that aim to increase understanding and treatment of neuropsychiatric disease.