Higham, J. P., Cooper, E. B., Whalen, C. et al. 2023. Urinary cytokine measurements do not reflect surgery-induced inflammation in rhesus macaques. American Journal of Primatology 85(8), e23506.

Measurement of the health and disease status of free-ranging primates is often limited by a lack of available biomarkers of immune activation and inflammation that can be applied noninvasively via the measurement of urine or fecal samples. Here, we evaluate the potential usefulness of noninvasive urinary measurements of a number of cytokines, chemokines, and other markers of inflammation and infection. We took advantage of surgery-associated inflammation in seven captive rhesus macaques, collecting urine samples before and after the medical interventions. We measured these urine samples for 33 different markers of inflammation and immune activation that are known to be responsive to inflammation and infection in rhesus macaque blood samples, via the Luminex platform. We also measured all samples for concentrations of the soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), which we had validated in a prior study as an effective biomarker of inflammation. Despite urine samples being collected in captivity under ideal conditions (clean, no contamination with feces or soil, frozen quickly), 13/33 biomarkers measured via Luminex were found at concentrations below detection limits in >50% of samples. Of the remaining 20 markers, only 2 showed significant increases in response to surgery—IL18 and MPO (myeloperoxidase). However, suPAR measurements of the same samples show a consistent marked increase in response to surgery that is absent from the patterns of IL18 and MPO measurement. Given that our samples were collected under conditions that are greatly preferable to those usually encountered in the field, urinary cytokine measurements via the Luminex platform seem overall unpromising for primate field studies.