Analysis of hair cortisol levels in captive chimpanzees: Effect of various methods on cortisol stability and variability

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Hair cortisol has been reported to be a useful measure of long-term hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation in several species. It serves as a practical tool for long-term stress assessment, but it is important to understand the methodological factors that can affects hair cortisol assays to avoid methodological artifacts. To that end, we tested several procedures for measuring cortisol levels in hair collected from captive chimpanzees. The results showed that reproducibility was high, and we found no differences in cortisol levels among the various storage, drying, and sampling methods. However, the fineness of homogenized hair, sample weight, and extraction time affected absolute hair cortisol concentration. Although hair cortisol levels were stable over time, factors that may influence measurement results should be kept constant throughout a study.We modified and validated a methodology involving enzyme immunoassays to reliably measure the hair cortisol levels of captive chimpanzees.The results revealed that the fineness of homogenized hair, sample weight, and extraction time caused variations in absolute hair cortisol concentrations in chimpanzees. In contrast, storage, drying, and sampling from similar body parts did not affect the results.


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    MethodsX (3), 110-117, 2016



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