Elevated local skin temperature impairs cutaneous vasoconstrictor responses to a simulated haemorrhagic challenge while heat stressed

J. Pearson, R. A I Lucas, C. G. Crandall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


New findings: • What is the central question of this study? Individuals exposed to combined heat stress and simulated haemorrhage show small but insufficient reductions in cutaneous vascular conductance at presyncope in non-heated skin. In the vast majority of skin directly exposed to increases in temperature during whole-body heat stress, the cutaneous vascular response during simulated haemorrhage to presyncope is unclear. • What is the main finding and its importance? During whole-body heat stress followed by simulated haemorrhage to presyncope, cutaneous vasoconstriction is absent/negligible in directly heated skin. These results have important implications for blood pressure control in individuals who are often heat stressed and at a higher risk for experiencing haemorrhage, such as soldiers. During a simulated haemorrhagic challenge, syncopal symptoms develop sooner when individuals are hyperthermic relative to normothermic. This is due, in part, to a large displacement of blood to the cutaneous circulation during hyperthermia, coupled with inadequate cutaneous vasoconstriction during the hypotensive challenge. The influence of local skin temperature on these cutaneous vasoconstrictor responses is unclear. This project tested the hypothesis that local skin temperature modulates cutaneous vasoconstriction during simulated haemorrhage in hyperthermic humans. Eight healthy participants (four men and four women; 32 ± 7 years old; 75.2 ± 10.8 kg) underwent lower-body negative pressure to presyncope while heat stressed via a water-perfused suit sufficiently to increase core temperature by 1.2 ± 0.2°C. At forearm skin sites distal to the water-perfused suit, local skin temperature was either 35.2 ± 0.6 (mild heating) or 38.2 ± 0.2°C (moderate heating) throughout heat stress and lower-body negative pressure, and remained at these temperatures until presyncope. The reduction in cutaneous vascular conductance during the final 90 s of lower-body negative pressure, relative to heat-stress baseline, was greatest at the mildly heated site (-10 ± 15% reduction) relative to the moderately heated site (-2 ± 12%; P= 0.05 for the magnitude of the reduction in cutaneous vascular conductance between sites), because vasoconstriction at the moderately heated site was either absent or negligible. In hyperthermic individuals, the extent of cutaneous vasoconstriction during a simulated haemorrhage can be modulated by local skin temperature. In situations where skin temperature is at least 38°C, as is the case in soldiers operating in warm climatic conditions, a haemorrhagic insult is unlikely to be accompanied by cutaneous vasoconstriction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-450
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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