Cold weather really does help cold germs spread.

Science Daily finds the truth behind the old wives’ tale, that common cold viruses flourish in conditions cooler than body temperature – like a nose in winter:

To investigate the relationship between temperature and immune response, [Yale professor of immunobiology Akiko] Iwasaki and an interdisciplinary team of Yale researchers spearheaded by Ellen Foxman, a postdoctoral fellow in Iwasaki’s lab, examined the cells taken from the airways of mice. They compared the immune response to rhinovirus when cells were incubated at 37 degrees Celsius, or core body temperature, and at the cooler 33 degrees Celsius. “We found that the innate immune response to the rhinovirus is impaired at the lower body temperature compared to the core body temperature,” Iwasaki said.

The study also strongly suggested that the varying temperatures influenced the immune response rather than the virus itself. Researchers observed viral replication in airway cells from mice with genetic deficiencies in the immune system sensors that detect virus and in the antiviral response. They found that with these immune deficiencies, the virus was able to replicate at the higher temperature. “That proves it’s not just virus intrinsic, but it’s the host’s response that’s the major contributor,” Iwasaki explained.

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