Behavioural fever is a synergic signal amplifying the innate immune response


Boltana S, Rey S, Roher N, Vargas R, Huerta M, Huntingford FA, Goetz FW, Moore J, Garcia-Valtanen P, Estepa A & MacKenzie S (2013) Behavioural fever is a synergic signal amplifying the innate immune response. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1766), Art. No.: 20131381.

Behavioural fever, defined as an acute change in thermal preference driven by pathogen recognition, has been reported in a variety of invertebrates and ectothermic vertebrates. It has been suggested, but so far not confirmed, that such changes in thermal regime favour the immune response and thus promote survival. Here, we show that zebrafish display behavioural fever that acts to promote extensive and highly specific temperature-dependent changes in the brain transcriptome. The observed coupling of the immune response to fever acts at the gene-environment level to promote a robust, highly specific time-dependent anti-viral response that, under viral infection, increases survival. Fish that are not offered a choice of temperatures and that therefore cannot express behavioural fever show decreased survival under viral challenge. This phenomenon provides an underlying explanation for the varied functional responses observed during systemic fever. Given the effects of behavioural fever on survival and the fact that it exists across considerable phylogenetic space, such immunity-environment interactions are likely to be under strong positive selection.

behavioural fever; anti-viral response; gene–environment interaction

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Volume 280, Issue 1766

Publication date30/09/2013
Date accepted by journal14/06/2013
PublisherThe Royal Society