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Brewer’s yeast is a potent inducer of fever, sickness behavior and inflammation within the brain

  • 2018-02
  • Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 68
    • R. Dangarembizi
    • K. Erlwanger
    • C. Rummel
    • J. Roth
    • M. Madziva
    • L. Harden


Brewer's yeast, derived from the yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae), is commonly used for inducing pyrexia in pharmacological studies screening antipyretics in rats. Despite its widespread use, the peripheral and central inflammatory response associated with Brewer's yeast-induced fever and sickness behavior in rats has not been investigated. Thus, we injected male Sprague-Dawley rats (150-200 g) subcutaneously with a high (4 g/kg, n = 9), medium (2 g/kg, n = 5) or low (0.4 g/kg, n = 6) dose of Brewer's yeast solution or saline (0.9%, n = 6) and measured core body temperature, cage activity, food intake and body mass for six days after injection. Blood and brain samples were collected at 2, 8, 18 and 72 h after injection; n = 5-7 per time point. Brewer's yeast administration dose-dependently induced fever, lethargy, anorexia and body mass stunting that was accompanied by increased blood plasma levels of interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and activation of inflammatory transcription factors (nuclear factor (NF) for interleukin-6, signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-3, and NF-κB)) in the hypothalamus and circumventricular organs. The increased activation of transcription factors following Brewer's yeast administration was accompanied by increased hypothalamic mRNA expression of TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 and rate-limiting enzymes for prostaglandin synthesis. Our results show that subcutaneous administration of S. cerevisae induces prolonged fever, anorexia and lethargy that is accompanied by a pronounced increase in the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines, key prostaglandin synthesizing enzymes and transcription factors, in the periphery and brain.

Keywords: Anorexia; Circumventricular organs; Cytokines; Lethargy; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Systemic inflammation; Transcription factors.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Brewer's YeastIncreased Energy LevelsHarmful
Brewer's YeastIncreased Hypothalamic Expression of Pro-inflammatory MarkersHarmful
Brewer's YeastReduced AppetiteHarmful
Brewer's YeastReduced Body Mass StuntingHarmful
Brewer's YeastReduced Fever IncidenceHarmful
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