Role of the OVLT in the febrile response to circulating pyrogens

Prog Brain Res. 1992;91:409-12. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6123(08)62360-2.


The available data suggest that circulating endogenous pyrogens (EPs) probably do not penetrate the brain, but interact with sensory elements in the organum vasculosum laminae terminalis (OVLT) which may involve 5HT and SP as neurotransmitters. It is proposed that substance P (SP) may affect thermo-regulatory neurons in the preoptic area (POA) directly or induce the local synthesis of cytokines that secondarily act on these neurons. Recent evidence indicates that endothelial cells in the OVLT bind circulating cytokines to receptors on their luminal surface. This may result in the release of putative neuroregulators which then process the original signals inwardly to the POA, where they then affect neuronal functions leading to fever production. Thus, trans-BBB passage of cytokines is prevented, but the brain site mediating their pyrogenic effect is informed and the appropriate responses are activated. It is emphasized, however, that this suggested mechanism is still speculative.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Fever / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Preoptic Area / physiology
  • Preoptic Area / physiopathology*
  • Pyrogens*
  • Substance P / physiology*


  • Cytokines
  • Pyrogens
  • Substance P