Journal of Applied Physiology

Effect of hypoglycemia on thermoregulatory responses

T. C. Passias, G. S. Meneilly, I. B. Mekjavic


The effects of hypoglycemia on sweating, skin blood perfusion, and shivering responses were investigated in 10 healthy male volunteers. They exercised on an underwater cycle ergometer while immersed to the neck in 28 degrees C water for 20 min at 50% of their maximal work rate. The exercise-induced elevation in esophageal temperature (T(es)) initiated the sweating response (Esw) and increased skin blood perfusion (SkBP) as measured at the forehead. In the 99-min postexercise immersion period, the values of T es relative to resting level (delta T(es)) at which Esw abated, SkBP reached preexercise values, and shivering commenced were defined as the delta T(es) thresholds for cessation of sweating, passive vasodilation, and onset of shivering, respectively. Two trials were conducted 1 wk apart. The subject was hypoglycemic in one trial and euglycemic in the other (plasma glucose was maintained at 2.8 and 5 mM, respectively) with the use of the hyperinsulinemic (insulin infusion rate = 60 mU.m-2.min-1) glucose-clamp technique. Oxygen uptake, Esw, T(es), mean skin temperature, heat flux from the skin, and SkBP were recorded at minute intervals. Although heat flux and SkBP attained significantly higher end-exercise levels during euglycemia, the responses were similar during the postexercise cooling period. Hypoglycemia did not affect the Esw response during the exercise and cooling periods. Whereas the exercise delta T(es) response was unaffected by hypoglycemia, the decrease in T(es) was greater (P < or = 0.005) during the hypoglycemic than during the euglycemic condition. Hypoglycemia did not alter the delta T(es) threshold for cessation of sweating and passive vasodilation but reduced (P < or = 0.001) the delta T(es) threshold for onset of shivering (from -0.09 +/- 0.07 degrees C in the euglycemic condition to -0.65 +/- 0.12 degrees C in the hypoglycemic condition). The present results indicate that hypoglycemia (2.8 mM) does not affect the delta T(es) threshold for cessation of thermoregulatory sweating or the threshold for passive vasodilation during recovery from exercise-induced moderate heat stress but that it decreases the core temperature threshold for shivering during cold exposure.