Links between thermoregulation and aging in endotherms and ectotherms

FAME Lab - Links between thermoregulation and aging in endotherms and ectothermsFlouris AD, Piantoni C. Links between thermoregulation and aging in endotherms and ectotherms. Temperature (Austin). 2014;2(1):73-85. Published 2014 Dec 20. doi:10.4161/23328940.2014.989793.


While the link between thermoregulation and aging is generally accepted, much further research, reflection, and debate is required to elucidate the physiological and molecular pathways that generate the observed thermal-induced changes in lifespan. Our aim in this review is to present, discuss, and scrutinize the thermoregulatory mechanisms that are implicated in the aging process in endotherms and ectotherms. Our analysis demonstrates that low body temperature benefits lifespan in both endothermic and ectothermic organisms.

Research in endotherms has delved deeper into the physiological and molecular mechanisms linking body temperature and longevity. While research in ectotherms has been steadily increasing during the past decades, further mechanistic work is required in order to fully elucidate the underlying phenomena. What is abundantly clear is that both endotherms and ectotherms have a specific temperature zone at which they function optimally. This zone is defended through both physiological and behavioral means and plays a major role on organismal senescence. That low body temperature may be beneficial for lifespan is contrary to conventional medical theory where reduced body temperature is usually considered as a sign of underlying pathology.

Regardless, this phenomenon has been targeted by scientists with the expectation that advancements may compress morbidity, as well as lower disease and mortality risk. The available evidence suggests that lowered body temperature may prolong life span, yet finding the key to temperature regulation remains the problem. While we are still far from a complete understanding of the mechanisms linking body temperature and longevity, we are getting closer.

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