Thermoeffector threshold plasticity: The impact of thermal pre-conditioning on sudomotor, cutaneous vasomotor and thermogenic thresholds

Nigel A.S. Taylor, Åsa Nykvist, Nicholas Powers, Joanne N. Caldwell

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8 Citations (Scopus)


To better understand the relationships between changes in body temperature and displacements of the thermoeffector thresholds (critical temperatures), the passive cooling (and heating)of pre-heated (and pre-cooled)individuals was investigated. Such experiments are necessary to understand the inter-dependence of those thresholds, and may possibly yield human evidence for the existence of separate central controllers. Eight males participated in four trials; two when normothermic, one following pre-experimental heating and the fourth following pre-cooling. Subjects were exposed to passive, whole-body cooling and heating when normothermic (the control trials), and again following pre-heating and pre-cooling (respectively). Cutaneous vasomotor, thermogenic, as well as precursor and discharged sudomotor thresholds from different body segments were compared across those dynamic thermal states. Following pre-heating, the critical mean body temperatures for vasoconstriction (0.37 °C ± 0.10)and thermogenesis (0.67 °C ± 0.20)were significantly elevated during passive cooling, relative to the corresponding control trial (both P < 0.05). When passive heating followed pre-cooling, the thresholds for vasodilatation were reduced (0.37 °C ± 0.07; P < 0.05). Conversely, but with the exception of forehead precursor sweating, the sudomotor thresholds were elevated (averaging 0.16 °C ± 0.02; P < 0.05). Most thermoeffectors revealed unique and adjustable activation thresholds, with the threshold displacements for thermogenesis and vasomotion appearing to be linked to the change in mean body temperature. Following pre-cooling, the critical temperatures for vasodilatation and sudomotor activation varied independently, with the exception of forehead precursor sweating. Collectively, those observations are consistent with the presence of independent central controllers for thermally dependent vasomotor and sudomotor responses, and perhaps also for shivering thermogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Shivering
  • Sudomotor
  • Thermoeffector thresholds
  • Thermogenesis
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Vasodilatation

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