Cells that trigger fever

Cell Cycle. 2006 Oct;5(19):2195-7. doi: 10.4161/cc.5.19.3321. Epub 2006 Oct 1.


Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is recognized by several receptors, including the toll-like receptor (TLR) 4, on various cells. Among many biological responses to LPS is fever, an often polyphasic rise in body temperature that is thought to be mediated by prostaglandin (PG) E(2). Which receptors on which cells are linked to fever production is unknown. It is also unknown which cells produce PGE(2) that triggers the earliest (first) phase of fever. Two recent studies from our group answer these questions. In the first one, we studied LPS-induced fever in mouse chimeras selectively lacking the TLR4 in hematopoietic or nonhematopoietic cells. We found that the first phase of fever is triggered via the TLR4 on hematopoietic cells. In the second study, we investigated LPS fever in rats. We found that the number of cells expressing cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, a PGE(2)-synthesizing enzyme, surged at the onset of fever in the lung and liver (but not in the brain), and that most of these cells were macrophages. Because LPS-induced PGE(2) production in macrophages is TLR4-dependent, it is tempting to speculate that the TLR4-bearing, bone marrow-derived cells implicated in fever pathogenesis by the first study are the same as the COX-2-positive macrophages identified in the second study. Hence, pulmonary and hepatic macrophages that recognize LPS via the TLR4 and rapidly produce PGE(2) are likely triggers of the fever response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / biosynthesis
  • Fever / etiology*
  • Fever / pathology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Organ Specificity
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / physiology


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Cyclooxygenase 2