Increased dietary cholesterol enhances cold tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster

Cryo Letters. Jan-Feb 2007;28(1):33-7.


For many years, non-freezing cold shock injury has been associated with damage to the cell membrane. In this study, we enhanced membrane cholesterol levels of Drosophila melanogaster by raising larvae on a cholesterol-augmented diet. Diet augmentation significantly increased the amount of cholesterol in the cell membranes of the adult flies (1.57+/-0.17 nmol per mg vs. 0.93+/-0.11 nmol per mg). Flies on the cholesterol-augmented diet exhibited a greater intrinsic cold tolerance: this group had a higher survival rate after a 2-h cold shock of -5 degree C than did the control group (71.0+/-6.6 percent vs 36.0+/-8.1 percent). Cholesterol-augmented flies also had a significantly greater capacity to rapidly cold-harden to -7 degree C (36.7+/-4.4 percent) compared to flies on a control diet (20.0+/-2.9 percent). These results suggest a mechanistic link between protection from chilling or cold shock injury and modifications to the cellular membrane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / pharmacology*
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Survival Rate


  • Cholesterol, Dietary