Key points: Humans lack skin receptors for wetness (i.e. hygroreceptors), yet we present a remarkable wetness sensitivity. Afferent inputs from skin cold-sensitive thermoreceptors are key for sensing wetness; yet, it is unknown whether males and females differ in their wetness sensitivity across their body and whether high intensity exercise modulates this sensitivity. We mapped sensitivity to cold, neutral and warm wetness across five body regions and show that females are more sensitive to skin wetness than males, and that this difference is greater for cold than warm wetness sensitivity. We also show that a single bout of maximal exercise reduced the sensitivity to skin wetness (i.e. hygro-hypoesthesia) of both sexes as a result of concurrent decreases in thermal sensitivity. These novel findings clarify the physiological mechanisms underpinning this fundamental human sensory experience. In addition, they indicate sex differences in thermoregulatory responses and will inform the design of more effective sport and protective clothing, as well as thermoregulatory models. Abstract: Humans lack skin hygroreceptors and we rely on integrating cold and tactile inputs from A-type skin nerve fibres to sense wetness. Yet, it is unknown whether sex and exercise independently modulate skin wetness sensitivity across the body. We mapped local sensitivity to cold, neutral and warm wetness of the forehead, neck, underarm, lower back and dorsal foot in 10 males (27.8 ± 2.7 years; 1.92 ± 0.1 m2 body surface area) and 10 females (25.4 ± 3.9 years; 1.68 ± 0.1 m2 body surface area), at rest and post maximal incremental running. Participants underwent our quantitative sensory test where they reported the magnitude of thermal and wetness perceptions (visual analogue scale) resulting from the application of a cold (5°C below skin temperature) wet (0.8 mL of water), neutral wet and warm wet (5°C above skin temperature) thermal probe (1.32 cm2) to five skin sites. We found that: (i) females were ∼14% to ∼17% more sensitive to cold-wetness than males, yet both sexes were as sensitive to neutral- and warm-wetness; (ii) regional differences were present for cold-wetness only, and these followed a craniocaudal increase that was more pronounced in males (i.e. the foot was ∼31% more sensitive than the forehead); and (iii) maximal exercise reduced cold-wetness sensitivity over specific regions in males (i.e. ∼40% decrease in foot sensitivity), and also induced a generalized reduction in warm-wetness sensitivity in both sexes (i.e. ∼4% to ∼6%). For the first time, we show that females are more sensitive to cold wetness than males and that maximal exercise induce hygro-hypoesthesia. These novel findings expand our knowledge on sex differences in thermoregulatory physiology.

Valenza A., Bianco A., & Filingeri D. (2019). Thermosensory mapping of skin wetness sensitivity across the body of young males and females at rest and following maximal incremental running. THE JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY, 597(13), 3315-3332 [10.1113/JP277928].

Thermosensory mapping of skin wetness sensitivity across the body of young males and females at rest and following maximal incremental running

Valenza A.;Bianco A.;
2019

Abstract

Key points: Humans lack skin receptors for wetness (i.e. hygroreceptors), yet we present a remarkable wetness sensitivity. Afferent inputs from skin cold-sensitive thermoreceptors are key for sensing wetness; yet, it is unknown whether males and females differ in their wetness sensitivity across their body and whether high intensity exercise modulates this sensitivity. We mapped sensitivity to cold, neutral and warm wetness across five body regions and show that females are more sensitive to skin wetness than males, and that this difference is greater for cold than warm wetness sensitivity. We also show that a single bout of maximal exercise reduced the sensitivity to skin wetness (i.e. hygro-hypoesthesia) of both sexes as a result of concurrent decreases in thermal sensitivity. These novel findings clarify the physiological mechanisms underpinning this fundamental human sensory experience. In addition, they indicate sex differences in thermoregulatory responses and will inform the design of more effective sport and protective clothing, as well as thermoregulatory models. Abstract: Humans lack skin hygroreceptors and we rely on integrating cold and tactile inputs from A-type skin nerve fibres to sense wetness. Yet, it is unknown whether sex and exercise independently modulate skin wetness sensitivity across the body. We mapped local sensitivity to cold, neutral and warm wetness of the forehead, neck, underarm, lower back and dorsal foot in 10 males (27.8 ± 2.7 years; 1.92 ± 0.1 m2 body surface area) and 10 females (25.4 ± 3.9 years; 1.68 ± 0.1 m2 body surface area), at rest and post maximal incremental running. Participants underwent our quantitative sensory test where they reported the magnitude of thermal and wetness perceptions (visual analogue scale) resulting from the application of a cold (5°C below skin temperature) wet (0.8 mL of water), neutral wet and warm wet (5°C above skin temperature) thermal probe (1.32 cm2) to five skin sites. We found that: (i) females were ∼14% to ∼17% more sensitive to cold-wetness than males, yet both sexes were as sensitive to neutral- and warm-wetness; (ii) regional differences were present for cold-wetness only, and these followed a craniocaudal increase that was more pronounced in males (i.e. the foot was ∼31% more sensitive than the forehead); and (iii) maximal exercise reduced cold-wetness sensitivity over specific regions in males (i.e. ∼40% decrease in foot sensitivity), and also induced a generalized reduction in warm-wetness sensitivity in both sexes (i.e. ∼4% to ∼6%). For the first time, we show that females are more sensitive to cold wetness than males and that maximal exercise induce hygro-hypoesthesia. These novel findings expand our knowledge on sex differences in thermoregulatory physiology.
Valenza A., Bianco A., & Filingeri D. (2019). Thermosensory mapping of skin wetness sensitivity across the body of young males and females at rest and following maximal incremental running. THE JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY, 597(13), 3315-3332 [10.1113/JP277928].
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
JP277928.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione Editoriale
Dimensione 3.59 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
3.59 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/483158
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 13
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 13
social impact