Social Influences on Endocrine Activity in Guinea Pigs, with Comparisons to Findings in Nonhuman Primates

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Guinea pigs exhibit a rich and varied social organization. Studies in recent years have demonstrated that social stimuli have widespread neuroendocrine effects in guinea pigs. Here, effects on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal, adrenal medullary/sympathetic, and hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal systems of both adult and developing guinea pigs are reviewed. These systems respond to various social variables, or factors that affect social variables, including: separation from attachment objects, housing conditions, changes in housing, the familiarity of the environment in which social interactions occur, foraging conditions, surrogate-rearing, agonistic interactions, and the establishment of dominance rank. Similarities and differences between these findings and those in nonhuman primates are discussed. It is argued that the guinea pig is well suited for the study of socioendocrine effects throughout the life span, and can provide a valuable complement to nonhuman primate research in this area.



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