Mechanisms and controllers of eccrine sweating in humans

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2010 Jan 1;2(2):685-96. doi: 10.2741/s94.


Human body temperature is regulated within a very narrow range. When exposed to hyperthermic conditions, via environmental factors and/or increased metabolism, heat dissipation becomes vital for survival. In humans, the primary mechanism of heat dissipation, particularly when ambient temperature is higher than skin temperature, is evaporative heat loss secondary to sweat secretion from eccrine glands. While the primary controller of sweating is the integration between internal and skin temperatures, a number of non-thermal factors modulate the sweating response. In addition to summarizing the current understanding of the neural pathways from the brain to the sweat gland, as well as responses at the sweat gland, this review will highlight findings pertaining to studies of proposed non-thermal modifiers of sweating, namely, exercise, baroreceptor loading state, and body fluid status. Information from these studies not only provides important insight pertaining to the basic mechanisms of sweating, but also perhaps could be useful towards a greater understanding of potential mechanisms and consequences of disease states as well as aging in altering sweating responses and thus temperature regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Fluids / chemistry
  • Body Fluids / physiology
  • Eccrine Glands / metabolism*
  • Eccrine Glands / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Pressoreceptors / physiology*
  • Sweating / physiology*