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Thermoregulation in Cold Environments (Review). Report II. Pp. 5–16.

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Section: Physiology




Bocharov Mikhail Ivanovich, Ukhta State Technical University (Ukhta, Russia)


This review summarizes the results of experimental and field studies of the physiological processes of thermoregulation under the action of cold exposure on the body. The paper dwells on the structure of the peripheral vascular response to cold, as well as on the central and local mechanisms of vasomotor reactions. It also describes the mechanisms underlying cold-induces vasodilation, its physiological meaning and adaptive changes. Further, the article focuses on the changing sensitivity of peripheral cold receptors during adaptation to cold. Increased sensitivity of peripheral thermoreceptors is considered to be a compensatory-adaptive mechanism aimed to improve the accuracy of regulatory systems and to optimize thermoregulation processes in the cold. Decreased sensitivity to cold is a symptom of developing pathology. It is assumed that insufficient thermogenesis under the action of cold on the body is compensated by contractile thermogenesis in the form of thermoregulatory tone and cold shivering. Temperature threshold for cold shivering is determined by phenotypic characteristics and adaptation to cold. Literature data indicate a potential increase in heat production and hyperthermia during voluntary muscle activity following a short-term muscle exercise in the cold. The paper shows that reactions of systemic hemodynamics grow weaker with repeated cold exposures, while the evolving hypothermia results in decreased cardiac efficiency and increased peripheral vasoconstriction. During adaptation to cold, the pattern of respiration changes in order to reduce the heat loss due to the warming of the inhaled air. In addition, the article dwells on the principles of heat balance regulation in the body as well as on the phenomenological concepts of feeling the temperature and assessing thermal comfort or discomfort.


cold, thermoregulation, adaptation, sensitivity.
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