Pflügers Archiv

, Volume 400, Issue 3, pp 228–234 | Cite as

A comparison between total body thermosensitivity and local thermosensitivity in mammals and birds

  • James B. Mercer
  • Eckhart Simon
Heart, Circulation, Respiration and Blood; Environmental and Exercise Physiology


We have investigated how total body thermosensitivity in various mammalian and avian species (mouse, rat, golden hamster, guinea pig, rabbit, dog, goat, pigeon, duck, goose) is related to their respective local thermosensitivities in the hypothalamus, spinal cord and skin. Local and total thermosensitivities were determined by measuring the relationship between the response of one thermoregulatory effector, metabolic heat production, and the appropriate temperature. Local cooling was performed with chronically implanted, water perfused thermodes, and local thermosensitivities were estimated by relating the maximum activation of metabolic heat production to the induced decreases in local temperature. Total body cooling was achieved by means of chronically implanted intravascular heat exchangers or with thermodes inserted into the lower intestinal tract, and total body thermosensitivity was assessed by relating the rise in metabolic heat production to the induced fall in core temperature. These analyses plus previous estimations derived from the literature show total body thermosensitivity in the different species to range from −4.0 to −12.0 W · kg−1 · °C−1. We also measured rabbit spinal cord thermosensitivity and guinea pig hypothalamic and spinal cord thermosensitivity; values for local thermosensitivity in other species were derived from the literature. In all species, local thermosensitivities determined as cold sensitivities in the described way were smaller than the corresponding total body core sensitivities. We conclude that thermosensitive structures outside of the investigated thermosensitive areas contribute a major input to the controller of body temperature, particularly in avian species in which hypothalamic thermosensitivity is lacking. This corresponds to observations in several mammalian and one avian species in which local and total body thermosensitivities were dervied from the responses of an autonomic heat defence effector, respiratory evaporative heat loss.

Key words

Temperature regulation Hypothalamic thermosensitivity Spinal cord thermosensitivity Skin thermosensitivity Total body thermosensitivity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Banet M, Hensel H, Liebermann H (1978) The central control of shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis in the rat. J Physiol 283:569–584Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Berek U, Jessen C (1980) Simultaneous occurrence of shivering and panting during strong spinal cord cooling in the hyperthermic goat. Pflügers Arch 384:R 26Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Brown AC, Brengelmann GL (1970) The interaction of peripheral and central inputs in the temperature regulation system. In: Hardy JD, Gagge A Ph, Stolwijk JAJ (eds) Physiological temperature regulation. Charles C Thomas, Springfield, pp 684–702Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brownlee KA (1960) Statistical theory and methodology in science and engineering. John Wiley & Sons. New York LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brück K, Schwennicke HP (1971) Interaction of superficial and hypothalamic thermosensitive structures in the control of nonshivering thermogenesis. Int J Biometeorol 15:156–161Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Brück K, Wünnenberg W (1967) Die Steuerung des Kältezitterns beim Meerschweinchen. Pflügers Arch 293:215–225Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dravoj P (1983) Vergleichende Untersuchungen zu den Beziehungen zwischen zentraler und peripherer Thermosensitivität an Ziege und Schaf. Inaugural-Dissertation, Universität Gießen, FRGGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Geisthoevel E, Simon E (1983) Autonomic heat defence of ducks in comparison to mammals. In: Hales JRS (ed) Thermal physiology. Raven Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Graf R (1980a) Diurnal changes of thermoregulatory functions in pigeons. I. Effector mechanisms. Pflügers Arch 386:173–179Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Graf R (1980b) Diurnal changes of thermoregulatory functions in pigeons. II. Spinal thermosensitivity. Pflügers Arch 386: 181–185Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hammel HT (1968) Regulation of internal body temperature. Annu Rev Physiol 30:641–710Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hammel HT, Wyndham CH, Hardy JD (1958) Heat production and heat loss in the dog at 8–36°C environmental temperature. Am J Physiol 194:99–108Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Helfmann W, Jannes P, Jessen C (1981) Total body thermosensitivity and its spinal and supraspinal fractions in the conscious goose. Pflügers Arch 391:60–67Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Inomoto T, Mercer JB, Simon E (1983) Interaction between hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic body temperatures in the control of panting in rabbits. Pflügers Arch 398:142–146Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Inomoto T, Simon E (1981) Extracerebral deep body cold thermosensitivity in the Pekin duck. Am J Physiol 241:R136-R245Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jessen C (1976) Two-dimensional determination of thermosensitive sites within the goat's hypothalamus. J Appl Physiol 40: 514–520Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jessen C (1977) Interaction of air temperature and core temperatures in thermoregulation of the goat. J Physiol 264:585–606Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jessen C (1981) Independent clamps of peripheral and central temperatures and their effects on heat production in the goat. J Physiol 311:11–22Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Jessen C, Mayer E Th (1971) Spinal cord and hypothalamus as core sensors of temperature in the conscious dog. I. Equivalence of response. Pflügers Arch 324:189–204Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jessen C, McLean JA, Calvert DT, Findlay JD (1972) Balanced and unbalanced temperature signals generated in the spinal cord of the ox. Am J Physiol 222:1343–1347Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Jessen C, Mercer JB, Puschmann S (1977) Intravascular heat exchanger for conscious goats. Pflügers Arch 368:263–265Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lin MT (1980) Effects of brain monoamine depletions on thermoregulation in rabbits. Am J Physiol 238:R364-R371Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Lin MT, Chen YF, Liu GG, Chang TC (1979) Studies on thermoregulation in the rat. Proc Natl Sci Counc Roc Rep China 3:46–52Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Martin R, Simon E, Simon-Oppermann Ch (1981) Brain stem sites mediating specific and non-specific temperature effects on thermoregulation in the Pekin duck. J Physiol 314:161–173Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Mercer JB, Jessen C (1978a) Effects of total body core cooling on heat production of conscious goats. Pflügers Arch 373:259–267Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mercer JB, Jessen C (1978b) Central thermosensitivity in conscious goats: Hypothalamus and spinal cord versus residual inner body. Pflügers Arch 374:179–186Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Mercer JB, Jessen C (1979) Control of respiratory evaporative heat loss in exercising goats. J Appl Physiol 46:978–983Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Mercer JB, Jessen C (1980) Thermal control of respiratory evaporative heat loss in exercising dogs. J Appl Physiol 49:979–984Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Mercer JB, Simon E (1983) A comparison between total body thermosensitivity and local thermosensitivity in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). J Therm Biol 8:43–45Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rautenberg W, Necker R (1975) A comparison between peripheral and centrally generated cold sensitive signals in regulating heat production of the pigeon. In: Jansky L (ed) Depressed metabolism and cold thermogenesis. Charles University. Praha, pp 224–227Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Rautenberg W, Necker R, May B (1972) Thermoregulatory responses of the pigeon to changes of the brain and the spinal cord temperatures. Pflügers Arch 338:31–42Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Sachs L (1973) Angewandte Statistik. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Satinoff E (1978) Neural organization and evolution of thermal regulation in mammals. Science 201:16–22Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Schmidt I, Simon E (1982) Negative and positive feedback of central nervous system temperature in thermoregulation of pigeons. Am J Physiol 243:R363-R372Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Simon E (1974) Temperature regulation: the spinal cord as a site of extrahypothalamic thermoregulatory functions. Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol 71:1–76Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Simon E (1981) Effects of CNS temperature on generation and transmission of temperature signals in homeotherms: a common concept for mammalian and avian thermoregulation. Pflügers Arch 392:79–88Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Simon E, Iriki M (1971) Sensory transmission of spinal heat and cold sensitivity in ascending spinal neurons. Pflügers Arch 328:103–120Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Simon E, Mercer JB, Inomoto T (1983) Temperature dependent synapses and primary thermosensors in the thermoregulatory central nervous network. J Therm Biol 8:137–139Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Simon-Oppermann Ch, Simon E, Jessen C, Hammel HT (1978) Hypothalamic thermosensitivity in conscious Pekin ducks. Am J Physiol 235:R130-R140Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Stitt JT (1976) The regulation of respiratory evaporative heat loss in the rabbit. J Physiol 258:157–171Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Stitt JT, Hardy JD, Stolwijk JAJ (1974) PGE1 fever: its effect on thermoregulation at different low ambient temperatures. Am J Physiol 227:622–629Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • James B. Mercer
    • 1
  • Eckhart Simon
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für physiologische und klinische ForschungW. G. Kerckhoff-InstitutBad NauheimFederal Republic of Germany

Personalised recommendations