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Concept: Thermoregulation


Mitochondria generate most of the heat in endotherms. Given some impedance of heat transfer across protein-rich bioenergetic membranes, mitochondria must operate at a higher temperature than body temperature in mammals and birds. But exactly how much hotter has been controversial, with physical calculations suggesting that maximal heat gradients across cells could not be greater than 10-5 K. Using the thermosensitive mitochondrial-targeted fluorescent dye Mito Thermo Yellow (MTY), Chrétien and colleagues suggest that mitochondria are optimised to nearly 50 °C, 10 °C hotter than body temperature. This extreme value questions what temperature really means in confined far-from-equilibrium systems but encourages a reconsideration of thermal biology.

Concepts: Energy, Thermoregulation, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Entropy, Internal energy, Heat transfer


Estrogen withdrawal in menopausal women leads to hot flushes, a syndrome characterized by the episodic activation of heat dissipation effectors. Despite the extraordinary number of individuals affected, the etiology of flushes remains an enigma. Because menopause is accompanied by marked alterations in hypothalamic kisspeptin/neurokinin B/dynorphin (KNDy) neurons, we hypothesized that these neurons could contribute to the generation of flushes. To determine if KNDy neurons participate in the regulation of body temperature, we evaluated the thermoregulatory effects of ablating KNDy neurons by injecting a selective toxin for neurokinin-3 expressing neurons [NK(3)-saporin (SAP)] into the rat arcuate nucleus. Remarkably, KNDy neuron ablation consistently reduced tail-skin temperature (T(SKIN)), indicating that KNDy neurons facilitate cutaneous vasodilatation, an important heat dissipation effector. Moreover, KNDy ablation blocked the reduction of T(SKIN) by 17β-estradiol (E(2)), which occurred in the environmental chamber during the light phase, but did not affect the E(2) suppression of T(SKIN) during the dark phase. At the high ambient temperature of 33 °C, the average core temperature (T(CORE)) of ovariectomized (OVX) control rats was significantly elevated, and this value was reduced by E(2) replacement. In contrast, the average T(CORE) of OVX, KNDy-ablated rats was lower than OVX control rats at 33 °C, and not altered by E(2) replacement. These data provide unique evidence that KNDy neurons promote cutaneous vasodilatation and participate in the E(2) modulation of body temperature. Because cutaneous vasodilatation is a cardinal sign of a hot flush, these results support the hypothesis that KNDy neurons could play a role in the generation of flushes.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Medical terms, Menopause, Estrogen, Thermoregulation, Temperature, Heat, Hot flash


BACKGROUND: Hypohydration and hyperthermia are factors that may contribute to fatigue and impairment of endurance performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of combining glycerol hyperhydration and an established precooling technique on cycling time trial performance in hot environmental conditions. METHODS: Twelve well-trained male cyclists performed three 46.4-km laboratory-based cycling trials that included two climbs, under hot and humid environmental conditions (33.3 +/- 1.1[degree sign]C; 50 +/- 6% r.h.). Subjects were required to hyperhydrate with 25 body mass (BM) of a 4[degree sign]C beverage containing 6% carbohydrate (CON) 2.5 h prior to the time trial. On two occasions, subjects were also exposed to an established precooling technique (PC) 60 min prior to the time trial, involving 14 BM ice slurry ingestion and applied iced towels over 30 min. During one PC trial, 1.2 BM glycerol was added to the hyperhydration beverage in a double-blind fashion (PC+G). Statistics used in this study involve the combination of traditional probability statistics and a magnitude-based inference approach. RESULTS: Hyperhydration resulted in large reductions (-0.6 to -0.7[degree sign]C) in rectal temperature. The addition of glycerol to this solution also lowered urine output (330 ml, 10%). Precooling induced further small (-0.3[degree sign]C) to moderate (-0.4[degree sign]C) reductions in rectal temperature with PC and PC+G treatments, respectively, when compared with CON (0.0[degree sign]C, P<0.05). Overall, PC+G failed to achieve a clear change in cycling performance over CON, but PC showed a possible 2% (30 s, P=0.02) improvement in performance time on climb 2 compared to CON. This improvement was attributed to subjects' lower perception of effort reported over the first 10 km of the trial, despite no clear performance change during this time. No differences were detected in any other physiological measurements throughout the time trial. CONCLUSIONS: Despite increasing fluid intake and reducing core temperature, performance and thermoregulatory benefits of a hyperhydration strategy with and without the addition of glycerol, plus practical precooling, were not superior to hyperhydration alone. Further research is warranted to further refine preparation strategies for athletes competing in thermally stressful events to optimize health and maximize performance outcomes.

Concepts: Physiology, Thermoregulation, Temperature, Hyperthermia, Humidity, The Trial, Normal human body temperature, Individual time trial


BACKGROUND: Healthcare claims databases have been used in several studies to characterize the risk and burden of chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia (FN) and effectiveness of colony-stimulating factors against FN. The accuracy of methods previously used to identify FN in such databases has not been formally evaluated. METHODS: Data comprised linked electronic medical records from Geisinger Health System and healthcare claims data from Geisinger Health Plan. Subjects were classified into subgroups based on whether or not they were hospitalized for FN per the presumptive “gold standard” (ANC <1.0x109/L, and body temperature >=38.30C or receipt of antibiotics) and claims-based definition (diagnosis codes for neutropenia, fever, and/or infection). Accuracy was evaluated principally based on positive predictive value (PPV) and sensitivity. RESULTS: Among 357 study subjects, 82 (23%) met the gold standard for hospitalized FN. For the claims-based definition including diagnosis codes for neutropenia plus fever in any position (n=28), PPV was 100% and sensitivity was 34% (95% CI: 24–45). For the definition including neutropenia in the primary position (n=54), PPV was 87% (78–95) and sensitivity was 57% (46–68). For the definition including neutropenia in any position (n=71), PPV was 77% (68–87) and sensitivity was 67% (56–77). CONCLUSIONS: Patients hospitalized for chemotherapy-induced FN can be identified in healthcare claims databases–with an acceptable level of mis-classification–using diagnosis codes for neutropenia, or neutropenia plus fever.

Concepts: Medicine, Health insurance, Positive predictive value, Negative predictive value, Thermoregulation, Hyperthermia, Fever, Febrile neutropenia


Both endotherms and ectotherms (e.g., fish) increase their body temperature to limit pathogen infection. Ectotherms do so by moving to warmer places, hence the term “behavioral fever.” We studied the manifestation of behavioral fever in the common carp infected by cyprinid herpesvirus 3, a native carp pathogen. Carp maintained at 24°C died from the infection, whereas those housed in multi-chamber tanks encompassing a 24°C-32°C gradient migrated transiently to the warmest compartment and survived as a consequence. Behavioral fever manifested only at advanced stages of infection. Consistent with this, expression of CyHV-3 ORF12, encoding a soluble decoy receptor for TNF-α, delayed the manifestation of behavioral fever and promoted CyHV-3 replication in the context of a temperature gradient. Injection of anti-TNF-α neutralizing antibodies suppressed behavioral fever, and decreased fish survival in response to infection. This study provides a unique example of how viruses have evolved to alter host behavior to increase fitness.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene expression, Bacteria, Infection, Thermoregulation, Fever, Cyprinidae, Goldfish


Whether fishes are sentient beings remains an unresolved and controversial question. Among characteristics thought to reflect a low level of sentience in fishes is an inability to show stress-induced hyperthermia (SIH), a transient rise in body temperature shown in response to a variety of stressors. This is a real fever response, so is often referred to as ‘emotional fever’. It has been suggested that the capacity for emotional fever evolved only in amniotes (mammals, birds and reptiles), in association with the evolution of consciousness in these groups. According to this view, lack of emotional fever in fishes reflects a lack of consciousness. We report here on a study in which six zebrafish groups with access to a temperature gradient were either left as undisturbed controls or subjected to a short period of confinement. The results were striking: compared to controls, stressed zebrafish spent significantly more time at higher temperatures, achieving an estimated rise in body temperature of about 2-4°C. Thus, zebrafish clearly have the capacity to show emotional fever. While the link between emotion and consciousness is still debated, this finding removes a key argument for lack of consciousness in fishes.

Concepts: Fish, Thermoregulation, Temperature, Hyperthermia, Bird, Mind, Fever, Buddhism


Humans' core body temperature (CBT) is strictly controlled within a narrow range. Various studies dealt with the impact of physical activity, clothing, and environmental factors on CBT regulation under terrestrial conditions. However, the effects of weightlessness on human thermoregulation are not well understood. Specifically, studies, investigating the effects of long-duration spaceflight on CBT at rest and during exercise are clearly lacking. We here show that during exercise CBT rises higher and faster in space than on Earth. Moreover, we observed for the first time a sustained increased astronauts' CBT also under resting conditions. This increase of about 1 °C developed gradually over 2.5 months and was associated with augmented concentrations of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, a key anti-inflammatory protein. Since even minor increases in CBT can impair physical and cognitive performance, both findings have a considerable impact on astronauts' health and well-being during future long-term spaceflights. Moreover, our findings also pinpoint crucial physiological challenges for spacefaring civilizations, and raise questions about the assumption of a thermoregulatory set point in humans, and our evolutionary ability to adapt to climate changes on Earth.

Concepts: Receptor, Thermoregulation, Ligand, Receptor antagonist, Space exploration, Schild regression, Spaceflight, Normal human body temperature


Terrestrial animals often use evaporative cooling to lower body temperature. Evaporation can occur from humid body surfaces or from fluids interfaced to the environment through a number of different mechanisms, such as sweating or panting. In Diptera, some flies move tidally a droplet of fluid out and then back in the buccopharyngeal cavity for a repeated number of cycles before eventually ingesting it. This is referred to as the bubbling behaviour. The droplet fluid consists of a mix of liquids from the ingested food, enzymes from the salivary glands, and antimicrobials, associated to the crop organ system, with evidence pointing to a role in liquid meal dehydration. Herein, we demonstrate that the bubbling behaviour also serves as an effective thermoregulatory mechanism to lower body temperature by means of evaporative cooling. In the blowfly, Chrysomya megacephala, infrared imaging revealed that as the droplet is extruded, evaporation lowers the fluid´s temperature, which, upon its re-ingestion, lowers the blowfly’s body temperature. This effect is most prominent at the cephalic region, less in the thorax, and then in the abdomen. Bubbling frequency increases with ambient temperature, while its cooling efficiency decreases at high air humidities. Heat transfer calculations show that droplet cooling depends on a special heat-exchange dynamic, which result in the exponential activation of the cooling effect.

Concepts: Thermoregulation, Temperature, Heat, Viscosity, Liquid, Heat transfer, Evaporation, Chrysomya megacephala


Our understanding of the evolutionary transitions leading to the modern endothermic state of birds and mammals is incomplete, partly because tools available to study the thermophysiology of extinct vertebrates are limited. Here we show that clumped isotope analysis of eggshells can be used to determine body temperatures of females during periods of ovulation. Late Cretaceous titanosaurid eggshells yield temperatures similar to large modern endotherms. In contrast, oviraptorid eggshells yield temperatures lower than most modern endotherms but ∼6 °C higher than co-occurring abiogenic carbonates, implying that this taxon did not have thermoregulation comparable to modern birds, but was able to elevate its body temperature above environmental temperatures. Therefore, we observe no strong evidence for end-member ectothermy or endothermy in the species examined. Body temperatures for these two species indicate that variable thermoregulation likely existed among the non-avian dinosaurs and that not all dinosaurs had body temperatures in the range of that seen in modern birds.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Thermoregulation, Bird, Mammal, Cretaceous, Dinosaur, Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, Warm-blooded


While most animals thermotax only to regulate their temperature, female mosquitoes are attracted to human body heat during pursuit of a blood meal. Here we elucidate the basic rules of Aedes aegypti thermotaxis and test the function of candidate thermoreceptors in this important behavior. We show that host-seeking mosquitoes are maximally attracted to thermal stimuli approximating host body temperatures, seeking relative warmth while avoiding both relative cool and stimuli exceeding host body temperature. We found that the cation channel TRPA1, in addition to playing a conserved role in thermoregulation and chemosensation, is required for this specialized host-selective thermotaxis in mosquitoes. During host-seeking, AaegTRPA1(-/-) mutants failed to avoid stimuli exceeding host temperature, and were unable to discriminate between host-temperature and high-temperature stimuli. TRPA1-dependent tuning of thermotaxis is likely critical for mosquitoes host-seeking in a complex thermal environment in which humans are warmer than ambient air, but cooler than surrounding sun-warmed surfaces.

Concepts: Mosquito, Thermoregulation, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Heat transfer