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The classical model of the pathogenesis of fever suggests that pyrogenic cytokines, produced by leucocytes in the bloodstream in response to exogenous pyrogens, represent the distal mediators of the febrile response. They are recognized at the level of the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis in the central nervous system, where they induce synthesis of protaglandins representing the central mediators of the coordinated responses leading to fever. This classical model is challenged by studies showing inconsistencies between the febrile response and the cytokine pattern, as well as by data demonstrating paradoxical hyperfebrile reactions in knock-out mice lacking cytokines or cytokine receptors. Moreover, no measurable cytokine concentrations are to be found in a variety of specific patients groups with febrile conditions. There are recent data in the literature suggesting that alternative pathways may be involved in the induction of fever, ranging from the use of vagal fibres to transmit the signals leading to fever, to local production of cytokines at the level of the hypothalamus, or the use of membrane-bound cytokines as mediators. A multipathway mechanism for the induction of fever is suggested.