Neurogenic fever (NF) after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a major cause of morbidity that is associated with poor outcomes and prolonged stay in the neurointensive care unit (NICU). Though SAH is a much more common cause of fever than sepsis in the NICU, it is often a diagnosis of exclusion, requiring significant effort to rule out an infectious source. NF does not respond to standard anti-pyretic medications such as COX inhibitors, and lack of good medical therapy has led to the introduction of external cooling systems that have their own associated problems. In a rodent model of SAH, we measured the effects of injecting whole blood, blood plasma, or erythrocytes on the sympathetic nerve activity to brown adipose tissue and on febrile thermogenesis. We demonstrate that following SAH the acute activation of brown adipose tissue leading to NF, is not dependent on PGE2, that subarachnoid space injection of whole blood or erythrocytes, but not plasma alone, is sufficient to trigger brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, and that activation of adenosine A1 receptors in the CNS can block the brown adipose tissue thermogenic component contributing to NF after SAH. These findings point to a distinct thermogenic mechanism for generating NF, compared to those due to infectious causes, and will hopefully lead to new therapies.
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