Fever: Reciprocal Shift in Brain Sodium to Calcium Ratio as the Set-Point Temperature Rises

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Science  17 Nov 1972:
Vol. 178, Issue 4062, pp. 765-767
DOI: 10.1126/science.178.4062.765


A bacterial pyrogen acts on the brain by disturbing the natural balance between two essential cations in the cerebral region involved in thermoregulation. After typhoid vaccine is administered to the unanesthetized cat, 45Ca2+ efflux into the third cerebral ventricle increases while 22Na+ is retained in hypothalamic tissue at the same time that the set-point temperature begins to rise. The subsequent rates of 22Na+ and 45Ca2+ efflux parallel the course of the bacterial fever but in a reciprocal fashion. This supports the theory that a change in the set-point temperature is determined by an alteration in the inherent ratio of Na+ to Ca2+ ions in the hypothalamus.