Identifying immune traits and biobehavioral correlates: Generalizability and reliability of immune responses in rhesus macaques

Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Gabriele R. Lubach, Christopher L. Coe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Variation in immune responses over time and in different contexts presents a methodological challenge for characterizing the typical immune status of an individual. Our analyses statistically evaluated sampling strategies for optimizing the determination of an "immune trait" in studies of individual differences with nonhuman primates. Lymphocyte proliferation and natural killer cell activity were assessed on multiple occasions at 3-week intervals in male rhesus macaques for up to 1 year while they lived in undisturbed conditions. Generalizability and Monte Carlo analyses were utilized to explore the benefits of multiple evaluations and the effects of reliability on replication. There were substantial gains in reliability and stability by obtaining 4 or more immune assessments of the same individual, and the benefits continued to accrue to an optimal assessment level of 10 or more evaluations for each individual. The value of determining "immune traits" was then exemplified by demonstrating the degree to which the monkeys' handedness correlated with reliable indices of proliferative and cytolytic responses averaged over 1 year of assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-358
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research and the National Institutes of Health (AI 46521). The assistance of Dr. W. Ershler’s laboratory in the immune assays, as well as the staff of the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center (5P51RR000167) for husbandry and sample collection, is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Generalizability
  • Handedness
  • Lymphocyte
  • Monkey
  • Natural killer
  • Reliability
  • Rhesus macaque
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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