Your body temperature levels can affect how your immune system responds to the common cold virus, a new report suggests.

The new study conducted by Yale University scientists provides evidence that staying warm and bundling up can help you avoid the colds.

In fact, warmer body temperatures may even help stop the spread of the common cold virus in multiple ways, researchers found.

How The Common Cold Virus Responds To Warm Temperatures

Led by Yale immunology professor Akiko Iwasaki, the team of researchers examined human airway cells, which are known to produce vital immune system proteins known as interferons. These proteins respond to the cold virus.

Human airway cells were infected with the cold virus in a laboratory and kept at a core body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or a temperature of 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Those human airway cells infected with the cold virus tend to make little interferons when infected with the cold virus, researchers said. And at the absence of interferons, infected cells incubated at 33 or 37 degrees Celsius still controlled the virus.

Through their mathematical models, Iwasaki and her colleagues discovered that when infected cells were placed under below normal body temperatures, the cold virus replicated immediately.

But when the affected cells were placed under normal core body temperatures, the cold virus died off faster and was not able to replicate.

Additionally, warmer body temperatures appeared to have enhanced the activity of a crucial enzyme called RNAseL, which destroys and attacks viral genes. Each pathway adds to the defense of the immune system against the cold virus. Iwasaki says these are additional mechanisms at play.

"All are more optimal at 37 degrees," says Iwasaki.

The new findings contribute and corroborate with Yale's previous research. Their past study, which was conducted on mice, found that at a few degrees below the core body temperature, interferons that attacked viruses were less capable of performing their job.

What's more, cooler temperatures allowed the cold virus to spread in the airway cells of the mice, scientists had discovered.

Why The Findings Are Important

Both studies suggest that there are three immunological ways to tackle the virus, says Iwasaki. They also provide further approaches for therapeutically attacking the cold virus, which often triggers asthma.

Furthermore, researchers believe that findings of both studies could offer scientists new methods and strategies to develop treatments against pesky colds.

Details of the new study are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Photo: Tina Franklin | Flickr

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