Control of skin blood flow by whole body and local skin cooling in exercising humans

P. E. Pergola, J. M. Johnson, D. L. Kellogg, W. A. Kosiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


We examined the independent roles of whole body skin temperature (T(sk)) and tissue temperature (local temperature. T(loc)) in the control of skin blood flow (SBF) during cooling and the roles of the vasoconstrictor (VC) and active vasodilator (AVD) systems in mediating these effects. SBF was monitored by laser-Doppler flowmetry (LDF) at untreated sites and situs with local VC blockade by pretreatment with bretylium (BT). Seven subjects underwent four sessions of moderate bicycle exercise (20-30 min duration) at neutral T(sk) and T(loc) (34°C), neutral T(sk) and cool T(loc) (27°C), low T(sk) (28°C) and neutral T(loc), and low T(sk) and T(loc). Cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC; LDF/mean arterial pressure) was expressed relative to the maximum. Cool T(sk) increased the threshold level of internal temperature at which CVC began to rise equally at BT-treated and untreated sites (P < 0.05). The rate of increase in CVC relative to internal temperature was reduced by local cooling. BT pretreatment partially reversed this effect (P < 0.05). Thus a cool environment results in reflex inhibition of the onset of AVD activity by cool T(sk) and a reduced rate of increase in CVC due, in part, to norepinephrine release stimulated by cool T(loc).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H208-H215
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1 39-1
StatePublished - 1996


  • bretylium
  • environmental cooling
  • internal temperature
  • iontophoresis
  • laser-Doppler flowmetry
  • peripheral circulation
  • regional blood flow
  • thermoregulatory reflexes
  • vasoconstriction
  • vasodilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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