Background: Humans have 4 million exocrine sweat glands, which can be classified into two types: eccrine and apocrine glands. Sweat secretion, a constitutive feature, is directly involved in thermoregulation and metabolism, and is regulated by both the central nervous system (CNS) and autonomic nervous system (ANS).
Objectives: To explore how sweat secretion is controlled by both the CNS and the ANS and the mechanisms behind the neural control of sweat secretion.
Methods: We conducted a literature search on PubMed for reports in English from 1 January 1950 to 31 December 2016.
Results and conclusions: Acetylcholine acts as a potent stimulator for sweat secretion, which is released by sympathetic nerves. β-adrenoceptors are found in adipocytes as well as apocrine glands, and these receptors may mediate lipid secretion from apocrine glands for sweat secretion. The activation of β-adrenoceptors could increase sweat secretion through opening of Ca2+ channels to elevate intracellular Ca2+ concentration. Ca2+ and cyclic adenosine monophosphate play a part in the secretion of lipids and proteins from apocrine glands for sweat secretion. The translocation of aquaporin 5 plays an important role in sweat secretion from eccrine glands. Dysfunction of the ANS, especially the sympathetic nervous system, may cause sweating disorders, such as hypohidrosis and hyperhidrosis.
© 2017 British Association of Dermatologists.