Ageing attenuates muscarinic-mediated sweating differently in men and women with no effect on nicotinic-mediated sweating

Exp Dermatol. 2019 Aug;28(8):968-971. doi: 10.1111/exd.13878. Epub 2019 Feb 11.


Ageing attenuates muscarinic-mediated sweating. However, whether ageing also impairs nicotinic-mediated sweating remains unclear. Further, despite the known sex-related differences in peripheral sweat gland function, it remains unclear whether age-related modifications of muscarinic and nicotinic-mediated sweating, if any, are similar between men and women. We assessed local sweating in young and older healthy men and women (n = 11, each group) at two dorsal forearm skin sites receiving either: (a) methacholine (muscarinic receptor agonist, 5 doses: 0.0125, 0.25, 5, 100, 2000 mmol/L) or (b) nicotine (nicotinic receptor agonist, 5 doses: 1.2, 3.6, 11, 33, 100 mmol/L) via intradermal microdialysis. Age-related reductions in methacholine-induced sweating were observed at low-to-moderate doses (0.0125-5 mmol/L; all P ≤ 0.05) in men, whereas a reduction was only evident at the highest methacholine dose (2000 mmol/L; P ≤ 0.05) in women. No effect of ageing was observed for nicotine-induced sweating (all P > 0.26 for main effects of age, dose and all interactions). We showed that while healthy ageing attenuates low-to-moderate levels of muscarinic-mediated sweating in men, reductions are only observed at high levels of muscarinic-mediated sweating in women. However, healthy ageing does not modulate nicotinic-mediated sweating in either men or women.

Keywords: acetylcholine; axon reflex; heat loss; sex hormones; thermoregulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*
  • Sweating*
  • Young Adult


  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Nicotine