Effects of Fever
Once the host organism has successfully signaled and caused an increase in set-point temperature, the body begins to experience some of the effects of the heated environment. In addition the lack of appetite, fatigue, pain, heat, and general dehydration that we commonly associate with fever, there are many beneficial effects occurring at a physiological level that we are unable to perceive. In a sense, fever could be considered comparable to inflammation on a whole-body level in that while there are clearly some instances in which it is a health hazard (such as autoimmune disease), there are also a significant number of benefits.
One of the most clearly helpful effects of increasing body temperature is the helpful effect on leukocytes—white blood cells such as T-cells and neutrophils. These cells play an essential role in the immune management of infection, preventing the pathogen from getting out of hand and causing either a response to toxins produced and/or sepsis from the host.
Studies have shown that rate of neutrophil activation is increased at higher temperatures, and that they are able to move faster throughout circulation. Raised temperatures have also been shown to increase proliferation rates of T-cells, which are also necessary for several aspects of immune response. Increased body temperature in rhesus monkeys has been shown to facilitate increased production of interferons, a class of proteins involved in mediating immune response to pathogen (11). The combination of these immune-boosting functions in addition to detrimental effects of pathogen would appear to have decidedly beneficial effects on an infected host organism.
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Phylogenetic Conservation of Febrile Response
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