Diabetes mellitus and thermoregulation

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1987 Jun;65(6):1365-76. doi: 10.1139/y87-215.


Diabetes mellitus is accompanied by a variety of alterations in metabolic, cardiovascular, and neuronal function. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the ways in which these pathophysiological aspects of diabetes may impair thermoregulatory function. The influence of diabetic neuropathy and vasculopathy on the control of peripheral blood flow is reviewed and the additional effects of changing levels of blood glucose and insulin are discussed. Both hypoglycaemia and diabetic ketoacidosis are associated with hypothermia, but the reasons for this in ketoacidosis are not clear. Impairment of heat conservation may contribute to and could be a consequence of autonomic neuropathy. The final section of the paper describes a study of our own in which metabolic stability was maintained by infusing insulin intravenously before and during the determination of the thermoregulatory responses to acute cold stress. Under these conditions, there was impairment of reflex vasoconstriction in the limbs of diabetics with neuropathy. This failure to reduce heat loss resulted in half the diabetics with neuropathy shivering in response to moderate cooling, which in some subjects was accompanied by a fall in core temperature. Diabetics without neuropathy and nondiabetics neither shivered nor dropped core temperature.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / blood
  • Body Temperature Regulation* / drug effects
  • Capillaries / physiopathology
  • Deoxyglucose / pharmacology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Sweat Glands / innervation
  • Sweat Glands / physiopathology
  • Sweating


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Deoxyglucose