Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Evolutionary Significance of Fever in Immune Response


Fever, although part of the second line of defense in immune response, is still a topic of discussion on whether an increase in body temperature during an infection is more beneficial than harmful. Fever is considered a beneficial response to infection because of the incapability of pathogens to survive the increased temperature, and fever’s ability to increase mobilization of immune cells. Other than this regular benefit of increase in body temperature, fever therapy is being considered as a safer, less expensive, and more effective cancer treatment. However, fever is currently looked down upon by physicians and the public due to its harmful effects such as seizures if not maintained within a certain range, and increases risk of Autism spectrum disorders in children of pregnant mothers who had an uncontrolled fever. Preservation of fever response over generations and its similarity in several organisms indicates its evolutionary advantage despite some harmful effects associated with this response, and could be an intermediate adaptation for survival. Further research can be done to better control fevers and keep them within the safe range instead of completely alleviating them, such as letting a fever run its course to fight infections better and faster under certain circumstances, increase awareness on how to monitor a fever, and increase awareness on individuals who are at higher risk of the negative consequences of fever.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View