Fever can provide a survival advantage during infection. Metabolic processes are sensitive to environmental conditions, but the effect of fever on T cell metabolism is not well characterized. We show that in activated CD8+ T cells, exposure to febrile temperature (39 °C) augmented metabolic activity and T cell effector functions, despite having a limited effect on proliferation or activation marker expression. Transcriptional profiling revealed an up-regulation of mitochondrial pathways, which was consistent with increased mass and metabolism observed in T cells exposed to 39 °C. Through in vitro and in vivo models, we determined that mitochondrial translation is integral to the enhanced metabolic activity and function of CD8+ T cells exposed to febrile temperature. Transiently exposing donor lymphocytes to 39 °C prior to infusion in a myeloid leukemia mouse model conferred enhanced therapeutic efficacy, raising the possibility that exposure of T cells to febrile temperatures could have clinical potential.
Keywords: T cell; fever; immunology; metabolism; mitochondria.
Copyright © 2021 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.