Urinary neopterin reflects immunological variation associated with age, helminth parasitism, and the microbiome in a wild primate

India A. Schneider-Crease, Jacob A. Feder, Alice Baniel, Colleen McCann, Abebaw Azanaw Haile, Belayneh Abebe, Lauren Fitzgerald, Megan A. Gomery, Ruth A. Simberloff, Zack L. Petrie, Sarah Gabriel, Pierre Dorny, Peter J. Fashing, Nga Nguyen, Thore J. Bergman, Jacinta C. Beehner, Noah Snyder-Mackler, Amy Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Neopterin, a product of activated white blood cells, is a marker of nonspecific inflammation that can capture variation in immune investment or disease-related immune activity and can be collected noninvasively in urine. Mounting studies in wildlife point to lifetime patterns in neopterin related to immune development, aging, and certain diseases, but rarely are studies able to assess whether neopterin can capture multiple concurrent dimensions of health and disease in a single system. We assessed the relationship between urinary neopterin stored on filter paper and multiple metrics of health and disease in wild geladas (Theropithecus gelada), primates endemic to the Ethiopian highlands. We tested whether neopterin captures age-related variation in inflammation arising from developing immunity in infancy and chronic inflammation in old age, inflammation related to intramuscular tapeworm infection, helminth-induced anti-inflammatory immunomodulation, and perturbations in the gastrointestinal microbiome. We found that neopterin had a U-shaped relationship with age, no association with larval tapeworm infection, a negative relationship with metrics related to gastrointestinal helminth infection, and a negative relationship with microbial diversity. Together with growing research on neopterin and specific diseases, our results demonstrate that urinary neopterin can be a powerful tool for assessing multiple dimensions of health and disease in wildlife.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21307
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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