Quantifying cortisol concentration in hair is a non-invasive biomarker of long-term hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activation, and thus can provide important information on laboratory animal health. Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and capuchins (Cebus apella) are New World primates increasingly used in biomedical and neuroscience research, yet published hair cortisol concentrations for these species are limited. Review of the existing published hair cortisol values from marmosets reveals highly discrepant values and the use of variable techniques for hair collection, processing, and cortisol extraction. In this investigation we utilized a well-established, standardized protocol to extract and quantify cortisol from marmoset (n = 12) and capuchin (n = 4) hair. Shaved hair samples were collected from the upper thigh during scheduled exams and analyzed via methanol extraction and enzyme immunoassay. In marmosets, hair cortisol concentration ranged from 2710 – 6267 pg/mg and averaged 4070 ± 304 pg/mg. In capuchins, hair cortisol concentration ranged from 621 – 2089 pg/mg and averaged 1092 ± 338 pg/mg. Hair cortisol concentration was significantly different between marmosets and capuchins, with marmosets having higher concentrations than capuchins. The incorporation of hair cortisol analysis into research protocols provides a non-invasive measure of HPA axis activity over time, which offers insight into animal health. Utilization of standard protocols across laboratories is essential to obtaining valid measurements and allowing for valuable future cross-species comparisons.
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Phillips, K. A., Tukan, A. N., Rigodanzo, A. D., Reusch, R. T., Brasky, K. M., & Meyer, J. S. (2018). Quantification of hair cortisol concentration in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and tufted capuchins (Cebus apella). American Journal of Primatology, 80(7), e22879. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22879
American Journal of Primatology