Hotter bodies fight infections and tumors better

Hotter bodies fight infections and tumors better — researchers show how — ScienceDaily – May 21, 2018 – Source: University of Warwick

I’ve always wondered about this: if our bodies deliberately start a fever to fight an infection, why do we always want to lower it? Now it looks like fevers also help with

The hotter our body temperature, the more our bodies speed up a key defense system that fights against tumors, wounds or infections

The researchers have demonstrated that small rises in temperature (such as during a fever) speed up the speed of a cellular ‘clock’ that controls the response to infections — and this new understanding could lead to more effective and fast-working drugs which target a key protein involved in this process.

Biologists found that inflammatory signals activate ‘Nuclear Factor kappa B’ (NF-κB) proteins to start a ‘clock’ ticking, in which NF-κB proteins move backwards and forwards into and out of the cell nucleus, wherethey switch genes on and off.

This allows cells to respond to a tumour, wound or infection.

When NF-κB is uncontrolled, it is associated with inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

  • At higher temperatures than the normal 37 degree body temperature (such as in fever, 40 degrees), the NF-κB clock speeds up.
  • At a body temperature of 34 degrees, the NF-κB clock slows down.

Lead mathematician Professor David Rand:

“in normal life the 24 hour body clock controls small (1.5 degree) changes in body temperature. The lower body temperature during sleep might provide a fascinating explanation into how shift work, jet lag or sleep disorders cause increased inflammatory disease”

While the activities of many NF-kB controlled genes were not affected by temperature, a key group of genes showed altered profiles at the different temperatures. These temperature sensitive genes included key inflammatory regulators and controllers of cell communication that can alter cell responses.

This study shows that temperature changes inflammation in cells and tissues in a biologically organised way and suggests that new drugs might more precisely change the inflammatory response by targeting the A20 protein.

Source: V. Harper, D. J. Woodcock, C. Lam, M. Garcia-Albornoz, A. Adamson, L. Ashall, W. Rowe, P. Downton, L. Schmidt, S. West, D. G. Spiller, D. A. Rand, M. R. H. White. Temperature regulates NF-κB dynamics and function through timing of A20 transcription. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201803609 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803609115


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