Cold Shock & Hot Shock Proteins - Cryotherapy & Sauna
More than 2,000 years ago, Finnish people invented their own way of sweating and called it Sauna, which means hot room. Why sweating? Well, when one sweats, the ‘water’ that comes out of the skin comes out with a number of unwanted elements from the body, and when they make way, they leave the body in a much better state. So, yes, Sauna was indeed a good invention by the Finnish people. This process is carried out in a small house that is pre-heated to very high temperatures, hence other translations of Sauna, like ‘bathhouse.’ The Sauna culture was spread across the world by the Finnish people, and was first brought to the U.S in 1638, after which Americans, and other parts of the world began to enjoy the benefits of this culture until this day.
Some benefits of Sauna are soothing and relaxing tired muscles, relieving mental fatigue, and tension and stress, increasing the metabolic rate, and improving circulation.
Hot Shock Proteins
The process of Sauna exposes the body to extremely high temperatures, meaning something must happen to protect the body from severe damage. The body, in response to the extremely high temperatures, produces what are known as hot-shock proteins (HSPs) to provide this protection. HSPs are a group of proteins that are produced by the body in response to the exposure to stressful conditions, like high temperature, for example a human body with a normal temperature of 37°C may produce HSPs at temperatures around, or above 42°C.
When under too much stress (from the heat), the body goes under uncontrolled protein unfolding. HSPs help in this situation by making sure that process is sufficiently controlled, thereby preventing further harm to the body. Besides protecting the body from the effects of high temperatures, HSPs also involved in the assembly of molecules which play significant roles in the immune system.
Cryotherapy and Cold Shock Proteins
Besides human treating their bodies to Sauna, they also practice cold therapy, long known to be ice bathing, where a person could just dip his body in a tub with ice water. However, technological advancements have seen the introduction of Cryotherapy, which is carried out in cold chambers. Cryotherapy is done using liquid nitrogen (which can turn into vapor when frozen) to cool the body temperatures to sub-zero temperatures for a few minutes at a time.
Because of the exposure to very low temperatures during Cryotherapy or cold treatment, the body is bound to produce cold-shock proteins (CSPs) for its protection against the cold. CSPs are responsible for protecting the body against the effects of being subjected to extremely low temperatures.
Under freezing conditions, the body has its transcription negatively impacted, the same happens to genetic translation, the protein folding is also inefficient and ribosome function is hindered. Therefore, CSPs protect the body under these freezing conditions by serving as nucleic acid chaperons. These may help prevent the formation of secondary structures in messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) at low temperature, thereby facilitating the initiation of translation.