Maturation- and aging-related changes in heat loss effector function

J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2004 Nov;23(6):289-94. doi: 10.2114/jpa.23.289.


This paper addresses the ways in which heat loss effector functions change with maturation and aging, using data obtained in our laboratory. Prepubertal children have an underdeveloped sweat function compared with young adults; this is compensated by a greater surface area-to-mass ratio and relatively greater heat loss from cutaneous vasodilation on the head and trunk when the air temperature is lower than the skin temperature. As the heat dissipation depends greatly on the evaporation of sweat, the core temperature of prepubertal children is greater than that of young adults owing to the underdevelopment of sweating. In the elderly the heat loss effector function decreases with aging. The decrease may first involve cutaneous vasodilation, then sweat output per gland, and finally active sweat gland density; and it may proceed from the lower limbs to the back of the upper body, the front of the upper body, then the upper limbs and finally to the head.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Skin Temperature / physiology
  • Sweating / physiology
  • Vasodilation / physiology