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Worms produce surprise insight into human fever

dicated that HSF-1 is part of a broad, multi-pathogen defense pathway. And it also suggested something new about fever, says Aballay.

Fever is an ancient immune mechanism used by metazoans in response to microbial infections. Warm-blooded “homeotherms?like rats (and people) can increase their internal body temperature in response to infection, yet even cold-blooded “poikilotherms?like worms migrate toward warmer environments in response to infections. But the mechanism of fever as a response to infection is still largely unknown. The activation of the HSF-1 pathways by heat shock and its function in C. elegans immunity provides both a molecular explanation for the beneficial role of behavioral fevers in poikilotherms and a mechanism by which fever works in metazoans, says Aballay.

It also raises questions about the HSF-1 pathway in humans and whether drugs currently used to reduce fever in infected patients may make matters worse by preventing activation of the HSF-1 pathway. Aspirin and similar anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce fever but also activate HSF-1 signaling, could offer the best of both worlds, says Aballay. He also points out that new drugs designed to activate HSF-1 are already in clinical trials for treating neurodegenerative diseases. “Our work opens the possibility of using co-inducers of HSF-1 to boost immunity to treat infectious diseases and immunodeficiencies,?says Aballay.


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Source:American Society for Cell Biology


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