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Ontogeny and aging of the distal skin temperature rhythm in humans

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In circadian terms, human ontogeny is characterized by the emergence of a daily pattern, from a previous ultradian pattern, for most variables during the first 6 months of life. Circadian aging in humans is characterized by a phase advance, accompanied by rhythm fragmentation and flattening. Despite an expanding body of literature focused on distal skin temperature, little information is available about the ontogeny and practically nothing about age-related changes in this rhythm. Thus, the aim was to evaluate the degree of maturation and aging of the circadian pattern of distal skin temperature to identify those parameters that are modified throughout life and could be used to differentiate subjects according to their age. For this, distal skin temperature was measured in 197 volunteers (55 % women), including babies aged 15 days (30 subjects), 1 month (28 subjects), 3 months (31 subjects), and 6 months (10 subjects); young adults aged 19 years (37 subjects); middle-aged persons aged 46 years (27 subjects); older people aged 72 (34 subjects). Circadian system maturation was associated with an increase in amplitude and a reduction in skin temperature during sleep. During adulthood, women showed a more robust pattern (lower fragmentation, and higher night-time temperature, amplitude, circadian function index, and first harmonic relative power); however, these differences were lost with aging, a period of life that was consistently associated with a phase advance of the rhythm. In summary, distal skin temperature pattern can be used as a robust variable to discern between different ages throughout the life.

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This work was supported by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III—RETICEF (The Aging and Frailty Cooperative Research Network, RD12/0043/0011, RD12/0043/006, and RD12/0043/0020), the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (BFU2010-21945-C02-01 and IPT-2011-0833-900000), including FEDER cofunding provided to J. A. Madrid. We would like to thank Imanol Martínez for his kind revision of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors have reported no conflicts of interest.

Author information

Correspondence to M. A. Rol.

Additional information

H. Batinga and A. Martinez-Nicolas contributed equally to this work.

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Batinga, H., Martinez-Nicolas, A., Zornoza-Moreno, M. et al. Ontogeny and aging of the distal skin temperature rhythm in humans. AGE 37, 29 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-015-9768-y

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  • Distal skin temperature
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Ontogeny
  • Human
  • Newborns
  • Aging