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Scientists closer to controlling body temperature in response to 'fight or flight'

Researchers in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science have identified a mechanism which may be able to control the 'fight or flight' response people experience in stressful situations. The findings, published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal suggest that blocking TRPV1 protein causes an increased release of noradrenaline, leading to an increase in core body temperatures.  

In the mouse study, researchers found that TRPV1 controls the nerves that release noradrenaline and affect core body temperature. This opens the doors for the development of new strategies to treat the effects of stress on the body.  

To make this discovery, researchers conducted experiments using normal mice and mice bred to have no TRPV1 protein in their bodies. Drugs that blocked TRPV1 were administered to normal mice and their body temperature increased. The same drugs had no effect in the genetically altered mice. Normal mice that were given drugs that blocked the effects of noradrenaline before giving the TRPV1 blocker demonstrated a much smaller increase in body temperature. The genetically altered mice surprisingly showed a normal body temperature under normal conditions, which led to further study. The researchers found that the 'fight or flight' response in the mice was reduced, including after administration of amphetamine, which is known to increase levels of noradrenaline. 

Dr Julie Keeble, one of the researchers involved in the study said 'The findings of our study give a greater insight into how body temperature is controlled, vital to improving the control of core body temperature in situations such as anesthesia, drug overdose and diseases in which core body temperature is pathologically abnormal.' 

You can read the full journal article 'The sympathetic nervous system is controlled by transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 in the regulation of body temperature' on the FASEB Journal website.