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Regional differences in facial skin blood flow responses to thermal stimulation



The facial skin blood flow (SkBF) shows regional differences in the responses to a given stimulation. The facial SkBFs, especially in the eyelid and nose exhibit unique response to physiological and psychological stimuli, but the mechanisms inducing those regional differences remain unclear. To investigate whether the regional differences in the local control of vasomotion in facial vessels correspond to the regional differences in facial SkBF response, we monitored the relative change of facial SkBF to regional thermal stimulation. We hypothesized that heat stimulation dilates the cutaneous vessels in the eyelid, while cold stimulation constricts those in the nose, which was based on previous findings


A thermal stimulator was used to apply temperature increase (from 20 to 40 °C at 2 °C/min) and decrease (from 40 to 20 °C at 2°C/min) in a randomized order to the right eyelid, nose, right cheek, and forehead of 14 healthy young males. The facial SkBF was measured for 10 s using laser-speckle flowgraphy when temperatures of 20 °C, 30 °C, and 40 °C had been applied for 30 s in both trials.


The SkBF in the eyelid did not change significantly during any thermal stimulation, and the nasal SkBF did not decrease significantly during cold stimulation. The SkBFs in the cheek and forehead increased significantly with the applied temperature.


These findings indicate that a large regional variation exists in facial skin blood flow response to local heating or cooling and that the regional variation did not correspond to the unique SkBF responses in the previous studies.

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Analysis of variance


Mean arterial pressure


Nitric oxide


Standard error


Standard deviation


Skin blood flow


Trial temperature-decrease trial


Trial temperature-increase trial


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This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI grants: number 15J11556 to A.M. and number 26560396 to N.H.

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Authors and Affiliations



AM, SH and NH designed the study, contributed to analysis and interpretation of data, and assisted in the preparation of the manuscript. AM and SH wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. SH have contributed to data collection. AM and NH have contributed to interpretation, and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript, and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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Correspondence to Naoyuki Hayashi.

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The authors have no financial conflict of interest.

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Communicated by Keith Phillip George.

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Miyaji, A., Hayashi, S. & Hayashi, N. Regional differences in facial skin blood flow responses to thermal stimulation. Eur J Appl Physiol 119, 1195–1201 (2019).

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  • Facial vascular response
  • Regional differences
  • Autonomic nerve activity
  • Thermal stimulation