Immune Response to Rhinovirus Suppressed in Colder Temperatures

Pharmacy Times, February 2015 Autoimmune Disorders, Volume 81, Issue 2

Supporting the claim that low temperatures can lead to the common cold, a recent study has indicated that cooler conditions allow the rhinovirus to more easily replicate by weakening the body's immune system.

Supporting the claim that low temperatures can lead to the common cold, a recent study has indicated that cooler conditions allow the rhinovirus to more easily replicate by weakening the body’s immune system.

The study, published online January 5, 2015, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared the immune response to rhinovirus of cells taken from the airways of mice at 37ºC (or core body temperature) with that of cells at 33ºC. The research team found that the innate immune response to rhinovirus was impaired at the lower temperature. To the study authors, this suggests that low temperatures have a direct influence on the body’s immune response rather than the actual virus.

The researchers also examined viral replication in airway cells from mice with genetic immune deficiencies, and found that with these immune deficiencies, the virus was able to replicate even at higher temperatures.

“That proves it’s not just virus intrinsic, but it’s the host’s response that’s the major contributor,” said study senior author Akiko Iwasaki, Yale professor of immunobiology, in a press release.

The researchers plan to apply this finding to further research on the effect of temperature on immune response.