Nehete, P. N., Shelton, K. A., Nehete, B. P. et al. 2017. Effects of transportation, relocation, and acclimation on phenotypes and functional characteristics of peripheral blood lymphocytes in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). PLOS ONE 12(12), e0188694.
Nonhuman primates from domestic sources constitute a small, but critical, proportion of animals studied in research laboratories. Many of these nonhuman primates are raised at one facility and subsequently transported/relocated to another facility for research purposes. We examined the effects of transport, relocation, and acclimation on the phenotype and function of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in a group of rhesus monkeys that were transported by road for approximately 21 hours from one facility to another. Using a panel of human antibodies and a set of standardized human immune assays, we evaluated the phenotype of lymphocyte subsets by flow, mitogen-specific immune responses of PBMCs in vitro, and levels of circulating cytokines and cortisol in plasma at various time points including immediately before transport, immediately upon arrival, and after approximately 30 days of acclimation. Analyses of blood samples revealed that CD3+ T-cell and CD20+ B-cell populations had decreased significantly immediately after relocation but had recovered within 30 days after arrival at the new facility. Similarly, circulating cortisol and cytokine levels in plasma were significantly higher immediately after relocation; and by the 30-day time point, these differences were no longer significant. However, immune assays of PBMCs indicated that mitogen-specific responses for proliferation, interferon γ (IFN-γ), and perforin were significantly higher after relocation and 30 days of acclimation. These findings have implications on the research participation of transported and relocated nonhuman primates in immunologic research studies, suggesting that 30 days is not sufficient to ensure return to baseline immune homeostasis. These data should be considered when planning research studies in order to minimize potential confounding factors associated with relocation and to maximize study validity.