Divergent roles of plasma osmolality and the baroreflex on sweating and skin blood flow

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012 Mar 1;302(5):R634-42. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00411.2011. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


Plasma hyperosmolality and baroreceptor unloading have been shown to independently influence the heat loss responses of sweating and cutaneous vasodilation. However, their combined effects remain unresolved. On four separate occasions, eight males were passively heated with a liquid-conditioned suit to 1.0°C above baseline core temperature during a resting isosmotic state (infusion of 0.9% NaCl saline) with (LBNP) and without (CON) application of lower-body negative pressure (-40 cmH2O) and during a hyperosmotic state (infusion of 3.0% NaCl saline) with (LBNP + HYP) and without (HYP) application of lower-body negative pressure. Forearm sweat rate (ventilated capsule) and skin blood flow (laser-Doppler), as well as core (esophageal) and mean skin temperatures, were measured continuously. Plasma osmolality increased by ∼10 mosmol/kgH2O during HYP and HYP + LBNP conditions, whereas it remained unchanged during CON and LBNP (P ≤ 0.05). The change in mean body temperature (0.8 × core temperature + 0.2 × mean skin temperature) at the onset threshold for increases in cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) was significantly greater during LBNP (0.56 ± 0.24°C) and HYP (0.69 ± 0.36°C) conditions compared with CON (0.28 ± 0.23°C, P ≤ 0.05). Additionally, the onset threshold for CVC during LBNP + HYP (0.88 ± 0.33°C) was significantly greater than CON and LBNP conditions (P ≤ 0.05). In contrast, onset thresholds for sweating were not different during LBNP (0.50 ± 0.18°C) compared with CON (0.46 ± 0.26°C, P = 0.950) but were elevated (P ≤ 0.05) similarly during HYP (0.91 ± 0.37°C) and LBNP + HYP (0.94 ± 0.40°C). Our findings show an additive effect of hyperosmolality and baroreceptor unloading on the onset threshold for increases in CVC during whole body heat stress. In contrast, the onset threshold for sweating during heat stress was only elevated by hyperosmolality with no effect of the baroreflex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baroreflex / physiology*
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lower Body Negative Pressure
  • Male
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Plasma / physiology*
  • Pressoreceptors / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology*
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Skin Temperature / physiology
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sweating / physiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology


  • Sodium Chloride