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Skin Blood Flow And Local Temperature Independently Modify Sweat Rate During Passive Heat Stress In Humans

Jonathan E. Wingo, David A. Low, David M. Keller, R. Matthew Brothers, Manabu Shibasaki, Craig G. Crandall

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Sweat rate (SR) is reduced in locally cooled skin, which may result from decreased temperature and/or parallel reductions in skin blood flow. The purpose of this study was to test the hypotheses that decreased skin blood flow and decreased local temperature each independently attenuate sweating. In protocols I and II, eight subjects rested supine while wearing a water-perfused suit for the control of whole body skin and internal temperatures. While 34°C water perfused the suit, four microdialysis membranes were placed in posterior forearm skin not covered by the suit to manipulate skin blood flow using vasoactive agents. Each site was instrumented for control of local temperature and measurement of local SR (capacitance hygrometry) and skin blood flow (laser-Doppler flowmetry). In protocol I, two sites received norepinephrine to reduce skin blood flow, while two sites received Ringer solution (control). All sites were maintained at 34°C. In protocol II, all sites received 28 mM sodium nitroprusside to equalize skin blood flow between sites before local cooling to 20°C (2 sites) or maintenance at 34°C (2 sites). In both protocols, individuals were then passively heated to increase core temperature ∼1°C. Both decreased skin blood flow and decreased local temperature attenuated the slope of the SR to mean body temperature relationship (2.0 ± 1.2 vs. 1.0 ± 0.7 mg·cm−2·min−1·°C−1 for the effect of decreased skin blood flow, P = 0.01; 1.2 ± 0.9 vs. 0.07 ± 0.05 mg·cm−2·min−1·°C−1 for the effect of decreased local temperature, P = 0.02). Furthermore, local cooling delayed the onset of sweating (mean body temperature of 37.5 ± 0.4 vs. 37.6 ± 0.4°C, P = 0.03). These data demonstrate that local cooling attenuates sweating by independent effects of decreased skin blood flow and decreased local skin temperature.