Effects of repeated whole-body cold stress on finger temperature responses to localized cooling
Abstract: The study aimed to assess whether a short-term, high-intensity cold acclimation protocol would modulate finger vasomotor [i.e., finger temperature (TF), cold induced vasodilation (CIVD)] responses and regional thermo-perception to localized cooling. Six men performed a hand cold provocation (consisting of a 30-min immersion in 8°C water), while being whole-body immersed, once, in 21°C water (i.e., cold trial; HYPO), and, the following day, in 35.5°C water (i.e., normothermic trial; NORM). The local cold provocations were repeated, in the same order, after 10 days. In the intervening period, the subjects undertook a whole-body cold acclimation pro-tocol, consisting of daily whole-body 14°C-water immersions for 5 consecutive days, for a maximum of 2 h, while the skin temperature of the right hand was maintained at 35.6 (0.1)°C. Thermal (rectal temperature, skin temperature, finger temperature) cardiorespiratory (mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate and oxygen uptake), and perceptual responses (thermal sensation and comfort, pain, affective valence) were monitored throughout the trials. The acclimation protocol resulted in hypothermic adaptation (i.e., habituation), which was characterized by a modest reduction in shivering and an attenuation of whole-body thermal discomfort. The main finding of the study was that, regardless of subjects’ thermal status, the 5-day whole-body cold acclimation protocol did not alter TF (P > 0.1) and CIVD responses (P > 0.2) during local cold stress. Yet, after the acclimation, the cold-induced increase in MAP was reduced and tended to be reduced during the HYPO (P = 0.05) and NORM (P = 0.14) local cold provocation trials, respectively. Furthermore, the perceived thermal discomfort and pain in the immersed hand appeared to be alleviated in all post-acclimation trials.
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