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Blocking the beta-adrenergic system does not affect sweat gland function during heat acclimation

      Abstract

      The purpose of the current study was to test the hypothesis that the beta-adrenergic innervation of the human eccrine sweat gland facilitates greater sweat production following heat acclimation. Eight healthy subjects (mean±SD age: 25.1±4.1 years, weight: 79.0±16.1 kg, and VO2max: 48.5±8.0 ml/kg/min) underwent active heat acclimation by walking at 40% of their VO2max for 8 days (90 min a day) in an environmental chamber (35.3±0.8 °C and 40.2±2.1% rH). To test the hypothesis, the adrenergic component of sweat gland innervation was inhibited by continuously administering a 0.5% solution of the beta-adrenergic antagonist propranolol via iontophoresis to a 5 cm2 area of one forearm during each 90-min exercise bout. The opposing control forearm underwent iontophoresis with a saline solution. Following heat acclimation, mean sweat rate in the inhibited and control forearm was 0.47±0.30 mg/cm2/min and 0.44±0.25 mg/cm2/min, respectively. Findings of the current study fail to support the hypothesis that adrenergic innervation facilitates human eccrine sweat gland function during heat acclimation, as no significant differences in sweating were observed. In light of the above, the physiological significance of the dual cholinergic and adrenergic innervation of the eccrine sweat gland has yet to be determined.

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