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Researchers Discover Fever's Origin

Update Date: Aug 27, 2014 09:34 AM EDT

Fever is a response to inflammation which is triggered by an onset of the signaling substance prostaglandin. In a new study, researchers are able to identify precisely where these substances are produced.  

The findings of the study pave the way for smarter drugs. 

After an aspirin is administered, all production of prostaglandins in the body is suppressed. All other symptoms of inflammation are eased simultaneously, including fever, pain and loss of appetite. However, it might not be always wise to get rid of all symptoms because there is a reason why they appear, researchers added.

"Perhaps you want to inhibit loss of appetite but retain fever. In the case of serious infections, fever can be a good thing," said David Engblom, senior lecturer in neurobiology at Linköping University, in the press release.

Engblom achieved a major breakthrough eleven years ago when he discovered the mechanism behind the formation of prostaglandin E2 during fever. 

Previously researchers had described a very simple mechanism but there was not yet proof that it was important in real life. The new study is based on tests with mice that lack the enzymes COX-2 and mPGES-1 in the brain's blood vessels. 

"This shows that those prostaglandins which cause fever are formed in the blood-brain barrier - nowhere else. Now it will be interesting to investigate the other inflammation symptoms. Knowledge of this type can be useful when developing drugs that ease certain symptoms, but not all of them," explained David Engblom.

The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience. 

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