Keeping the heating turned up as you age could be beneficial for health, if this new study is anything to go by.
Scientists have discovered that the drop in temperature associated with ageing could aggravate the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
In a study of mice with the disease, experts found that exposing them to warmer temperatures helped to reduce some of the main manifestations of Alzheimer's.
Researchers believe the findings are convincing enough to warrant further investigation in humans.
Researchers from the Université Laval in Canada wanted to test the hypothesis that changes in the body's temperature regulation as we age amplify the main manifestations of Alzheimer's disease.
Lead author Frédéric Calon, professor at the Université Laval, said: "We know that the incidence of Alzheimer's is low before age 65, but doubles every five to six years afterward.
"We also know that metabolism and body temperature decrease as people get older."
To test their hypothesis, researchers used mice which had been genetically modified to express the main manifestations of Alzheimer's disease as they aged.
This meant they produce beta-amyloid, which leads to the formation of senile plaque in the brain.
In these mice, memory problems begin to arise at the age of six months.
Scientists compared these mice to normal ones, and found that they were less able to effectively maintain their body temperature as they aged.
The difference reached almost 1° Celsius by the age of 12 months.
Researchers also found that the manifestations of Alzheimer's were more pronounced in the genetically modified mice when they were exposed to low temperatures.
"The abnormal tau proteins responsible for neuron deterioration increase more in transgenic mice than normal mice, and the loss of synaptic proteins is more pronounced," explained Professor Calon.
Interestingly, exposure to high temperatures helped to mitigate some manifestations of Alzheimer's disease in the genetically modified mice.
After one week in a 28°C environment, their body temperature had increased by 1°C. Beta-amyloid production had dropped substantially and memory test results were comparable to those of normal mice.
"Our findings suggest that it is worth exploring the treatment of thermoregulation among seniors suffering from Alzheimer's," added Professor Calon.
"If our conclusions are confirmed, it would be a relatively easy therapeutic option to implement because body temperature can be increased through physical activity, diet, drugs, or simply by increasing the ambient temperature."
The study was published in the latest issue of Neurobiology of Ageing.
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