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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 May;109(1):5-11. doi: 10.1007/s00421-009-1256-6. Epub 2009 Oct 31.

Concepts to utilize in describing thermoregulation and neurophysiological evidence for how the system works.

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Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Mikajima 2-579-15, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan.


We would like to emphasize about the system involved with homeostatic maintenance of body temperature. First, the primary mission of the thermoregulatory system is to defend core temperature (T (core)) against changes in ambient temperature (T (a)), the most frequently encountered disturbance for the system. T (a) should be treated as a feedforward input to the system, which has not been adequately recognized by thermal physiologists. Second, homeostatic demands from outside the thermoregulatory system may require or produce an altered T (core), such as fever (demand from the immune system). There are also conditions where some thermoregulatory effectors might be better not recruited due to demands from other homeostatic systems, such as during dehydration or fasting. Third, many experiments have supported the original assertion of Satinoff that multiple thermoregulatory effectors are controlled by different and relatively independent neuronal circuits. However, it would also be of value to be able to characterize strictly regulatory properties of the entire system by providing a clear definition for the level of regulation. Based on the assumption that T (core) is the regulated variable of the thermoregulatory system, regulated T (core) is defined as the T (core) that pertains within the range of normothermic T (a) (Gordon in temperature and toxicology: an integrative, comparative, and environmental approach, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2005), i.e., the T (a) range in which an animal maintains a stable T (core). The proposed approach would facilitate the categorization and evaluation of how normal biological alterations, physiological stressors, and pathological conditions modify temperature regulation. In any case, of overriding importance is to recognize the means by which an alteration in T (core) (and modification of associated effector activities) increases the overall viability of the organism.

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