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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007 Jul;293(1):H784-9. Epub 2007 Apr 27.

Role of sensory nerves in the cutaneous vasoconstrictor response to local cooling in humans.

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


Local cooling (LC) causes a cutaneous vasoconstriction (VC). In this study, we tested whether there is a mechanism that links LC to VC nerve function via sensory nerves. Six subjects participated. Local skin and body temperatures were controlled with Peltier probe holders and water-perfused suits, respectively. Skin blood flow at four forearm sites was monitored by laser-Doppler flowmetry with the following treatments: untreated control, pretreatment with local anesthesia (LA) blocking sensory nerve function, pretreatment with bretylium tosylate (BT) blocking VC nerve function, and pretreatment with both LA and BT. Local skin temperature was slowly reduced from 34 to 29 degrees C at all four sites. Both sites treated with LA produced an increase in cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) early in the LC process (64 +/- 55%, LA only; 42 +/- 14% LA plus BT; P < 0.05), which was absent at the control and BT-only sites (5 +/- 8 and 6 +/- 8%, respectively; P > 0.05). As cooling continued, there were significant reductions in CVC at all sites (P < 0.05). At control and LA-only sites, CVC decreased by 39 +/- 4 and 46 +/- 8% of the original baseline values, which were significantly (P < 0.05) more than the reductions in CVC at the sites treated with BT and BT plus LA (-26 +/- 8 and -22 +/- 6%). Because LA affected only the short-term response to LC, either alone or in the presence of BT, we conclude that sensory nerves are involved early in the VC response to LC, but not for either adrenergic or nonadrenergic VC with longer term LC.

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