Cutaneous vasodilator and vasoconstrictor mechanisms in temperature regulation

John M. Johnson, Christopher T. Minson, Dean L. Kellogg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Scopus citations


In this review, we focus on significant developments in our understanding of the mechanisms that control the cutaneous vasculature in humans, with emphasis on the literature of the last halfcentury. To provide a background for subsequent sections, we review methods of measurement and techniques of importance in elucidating control mechanisms for studying skin blood flow. In addition, the anatomy of the skin relevant to its thermoregulatory function is outlined. The mechanisms by which sympathetic nerves mediate cutaneous active vasodilation during whole body heating and cutaneous vasoconstriction during whole body cooling are reviewed, including discussions of mechanisms involving cotransmission, NO, and other effectors. Current concepts for the mechanisms that effect local cutaneous vascular responses to local skin warming and cooling are examined, including the roles of temperature sensitive afferent neurons as well as NO and other mediators. Factors that can modulate control mechanisms of the cutaneous vasculature, such as gender, aging, and clinical conditions, are discussed, as are nonthermoregulatory reflex modifiers of thermoregulatory cutaneous vascular responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-89
Number of pages57
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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