Key neurons

Key neurons that maintain body temperature in mammals

The body temperature of humans and many other mammals stabilizes at about 37°C.

Previous studies have found that the brain’s thermoregulatory center is located in the preoptic area, for example, when the preoptic area receives prostaglandin E (PGE2) signals produced in response to infection, it issues commands to raise body temperature in order to combat invading pathogens.

However, it is not clear which neurons in the preoptic area release the command to raise or lower body temperature.

A study published in Science Advances recently found that a group of neurons called EP3 in the preoptic area of the brain plays a key role in regulating body temperature in mammals.

The results show that EP3 neurons can send inhibitory signals to the dorsal medial hypothalamic nucleus (DMH) to control sympathetic responses to regulate body temperature.

For example, in a hot environment, the signal is enhanced to inhibit sympathetic output, which leads to increased blood flow in the skin and promotes body heat radiation to prevent heat stroke.

The researchers said the discovery of this study could advance the development of artificial temperature regulation technology, which is expected to be applied to a wider range of medical fields.

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