Does too much stress make us ill? Intuitively, most of us would say yes. (confession: most of my nineteen nineties, trying to run two jobs were just cold after fever after cold!) Now I am no medical man, but the team at the top-The Prime, Minister, Messrs Cummings, Gove et al have all been working incredibly long hours under appalling conditions of stress, and we cannot be surprised they have succumbed (see news media). However, if you are reading this, you are probably the curious sort who wants a proper scientific explanation of what’s going on. If you don’t, you have just wasted sixteen years in school and University.
Now a team ay Nagoya University led by Kazuhiro Nakamura, have come up with a well defined link which seems to bear how and why our suspicions are true (Marta Pulido Salgad Investigacion y Ciencia– How Stress can provoke Fever see English ref. below and article)
They have found that, in rats, stress stimulates the sympathetic nervous system ,which affects both cardiac function and body temperature. They have even identified a key area of the neuronal cortex, called the Dorsal peduncular cortex and the Dorsal tenia tecta( I bet you suspected they were going to be in there somewhere) According to Nakamura, they link directly to parts of the hypothalamus that control the functioning of brown fat-the one you use to control temperature. And their tests in stressed rats showed higher temperatures in regions like the back and the abdomen-where we mammals keep a lot of our brown fat.
It’s always good to have guessing knowledge confirmed. The team have given us an important new piece of the jigsaw puzzle. This way we may be able to better control stress, design it out, or treat it with drugs, if we really have to. And how much money could that save the Health Service in the long run?
A central master driver of psychosocial stress responses in the rat N Takoaka et al Science 367 (6482) 1105-1112 6 3 2020