Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Feverish Defence

Raised temperature inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication in respiratory tract tissue

19 February 2022

Feverish Defence

The sweaty misery of a fever is a familiar feeling, and it’s a common symptom of COVID-19 infection. This can feel like a direct consequence of the virus (SARS-CoV-2), but it is an essential part of the body’s protective response to many infections, lighting a fire under various immune system processes and providing an inhospitable environment for the virus. However it wasn’t clear how a change in temperature impacts SARS-CoV-2 in particular, so a study observed infection in respiratory tract tissue incubated at different temperatures. It found that at 37°C (top) the virus (red) took hold, but that at 40°C (bottom) its replication was diminished, and that the temperature change influences regulation of various host immune system responses. Further work will interrogate the mechanism that impacts the virus to inform future treatments, and for now anyone feeling the heat can take comfort knowing that it might help defeat the infection.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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