Skin temperature: its role in thermoregulation

Romanovsky, A. A. "Skin temperature: its role in thermoregulation." Acta Physiologica (Oxford, England). 210 (2014): 498-507.


This review analyses whether skin temperature represents ambient temperature and serves as a feedforward signal for the thermoregulation system, or whether it is one of the body's temperatures and provides feedback. The body is covered mostly by hairy (non‐glabrous) skin, which is typically insulated from the environment (with clothes in humans and with fur in non‐human mammals). Thermal signals from hairy skin represent a temperature of the insulated superficial layer of the body and provide feedback to the thermoregulation system. It is explained that this feedback is auxiliary, both negative and positive, and that it reduces the system's response time and load error. Non‐hairy (glabrous) skin covers specialized heat‐exchange organs (e.g. the hand), which are also used to explore the environment. In thermoregulation, these organs are primarily effectors. Their main thermosensory‐related role is to assess local temperatures of objects explored; these local temperatures are feedforward signals for various behaviours. Non‐hairy skin also contributes to the feedback for thermoregulation, but this contribution is limited. Autonomic (physiological) thermoregulation does not use feedforward signals. Thermoregulatory behaviours use both feedback and feedforward signals. Implications of these principles to thermopharmacology, a new approach to achieving biological effects by blocking temperature signals with drugs, are discussed.


00004 PMID: 24716231


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