The study of free-living animal populations is necessary to understand life history trade-offs associated with immune investment. To investigate the role of life history strategies in shaping proinflammatory cell-mediated immune function, we analyzed age, sex, and reproductive status as predictors of urinary neopterin in 70 sexually mature chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. In the absence of clinical signs of acute infectious disease, neopterin levels significantly increased with age in both male and female chimpanzees, as observed in humans and several other vertebrate species. Furthermore, males exhibited higher neopterin levels than females across adulthood. Finally, females with full sexual swellings, pregnant females, and post-reproductive females, the oldest individuals in our sample, exhibited higher neopterin levels than lactating females and cycling females without full swellings. Variation in females’ neopterin levels by reproductive status is consistent with post-ovulatory and pregnancy-related immune patterns documented in humans. Together, our results provide evidence of ample variation in chimpanzee immune activity corresponding to biodemographic and physiological variation. Future studies comparing immune activity across ecological conditions and social systems are essential for understanding the life histories of primates and other mammals.
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