Physiology, Temperature Regulation

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Thermoregulation is the maintenance of physiologic core body temperature by balancing heat generation with heat loss. A healthy individual will have a core body temperature of 37 +/- 0.5°C (98.6 +/- 0.9°F), the temperature range needed for the body's metabolic processes to function correctly.

The human body's thermostat is the hypothalamic thermoregulatory center, which, more specifically, is located in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus. This center sets the body's set point and regulates temperature homeostasis. The hypothalamus contains temperature sensors, which receive information via nerve cells called thermoreceptors. The body has peripheral and central thermoreceptors. The peripheral thermoreceptors are located in the skin and sense surface temperatures, while central thermoreceptors are found in the viscera, spinal cord, and hypothalamus and sense the core temperature. Variations in body temperature activate these thermoreceptors, which inform the preoptic area of the hypothalamus. This area then activates heat regulation mechanisms to increase or decrease body temperature and return it to baseline.

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