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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2005 Apr;288(4):H1573-9. Epub 2004 Dec 2.

Sympathetic, sensory, and nonneuronal contributions to the cutaneous vasoconstrictor response to local cooling.

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  • 1Dept. of Physiology-MSC 7756, University of Texas Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Dr., San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.


Previous work indicates that sympathetic nerves participate in the vascular responses to direct cooling of the skin in humans. We evaluated this hypothesis further in a four-part series by measuring changes in cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) from forearm skin locally cooled from 34 to 29 degrees C for 30 min. In part 1, bretylium tosylate reversed the initial vasoconstriction (-14 +/- 6.6% control CVC, first 5 min) to one of vasodilation (+19.7 +/- 7.7%) but did not affect the response at 30 min (-30.6 +/- 9% control, -38.9 +/- 6.9% bretylium; both P < 0.05, P > 0.05 between treatments). In part 2, yohimbine and propranolol (YP) also reversed the initial vasoconstriction (-14.3 +/- 4.2% control) to vasodilation (+26.3 +/- 12.1% YP), without a significant effect on the 30-min response (-26.7 +/- 6.1% YP, -43.2 +/- 6.5% control; both P < 0.05, P > 0.05 between sites). In part 3, the NPY Y1 receptor antagonist BIBP 3226 had no significant effect on either phase of vasoconstriction (P > 0.05 between sites both times). In part 4, sensory nerve blockade by anesthetic cream (Emla) also reversed the initial vasoconstriction (-20.1 +/- 6.4% control) to one of vasodilation (+213.4 +/- 87.0% Emla), whereas the final levels did not differ significantly (-37.7 +/- 10.1% control, -37.2 +/- 8.7% Emla; both P < 0.05, P > 0.05 between treatments). These results indicate that local cooling causes cold-sensitive afferents to activate sympathetic nerves to release norepinephrine, leading to a local cutaneous vasoconstriction that masks a nonneurogenic vasodilation. Later, a vasoconstriction develops with or without functional sensory or sympathetic nerves.

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