Role of nitric oxide in the vascular effects of local warming of the skin in humans

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Apr;86(4):1185-90. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1999.86.4.1185.


Local warming of skin induces vasodilation by unknown mechanisms. To test whether nitric oxide (NO) is involved, we examined effects of NO synthase (NOS) inhibition with NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) on vasodilation induced by local warming of skin in six subjects. Two adjacent sites on the forearm were instrumented with intradermal microdialysis probes for delivery of L-NAME and sodium nitroprusside. Skin blood flow was monitored by laser-Doppler flowmetry (LDF) at microdialysis sites. Local temperature (Tloc) of the skin at both sites was controlled with special LDF probe holders. Mean arterial pressure (MAP; Finapres) was measured and cutaneous vascular conductance calculated (CVC = LDF/MAP = mV/mmHg). Data collection began with a control period (Tloc at both sites = 34 degrees C). One site was then warmed to 41 degrees C while the second was maintained at 34 degrees C. Local warming increased CVC from 1.44 +/- 0.41 to 4.28 +/- 0.60 mV/mmHg (P < 0.05). Subsequent L-NAME administration reduced CVC to 2.28 +/- 0.47 mV/mmHg (P < 0.05 vs. heating), despite the continued elevation of Tloc. At a Tloc of 34 degrees C, L-NAME reduced CVC from 1.17 +/- 0.23 to 0.75 +/- 0.11 mV/mmHg (P < 0.05). Administration of sodium nitroprusside increased CVC to levels no different from those induced by local warming. Thus NOS inhibition attenuated, and sodium nitroprusside restored, the cutaneous vasodilation induced by elevation of Tloc; therefore, the mechanism of cutaneous vasodilation by local warming requires NOS generation of NO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester / pharmacology*
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Nitroprusside / pharmacology
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Skin Temperature / physiology*


  • Nitroprusside
  • Nitric Oxide
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester