Human temperature regulation under heat stress in health, disease, and injury

Matthew N. Cramer, Daniel Gagnon, Orlando Laitano, Craig G. Crandall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The human body constantly exchanges heat with the environment. Temperature regulation is a homeostatic feedback control system that ensures deep body temperature is maintained within narrow limits despite wide variations in environmental conditions and activity-related elevations in metabolic heat production. Extensive research has been performed to study the physiological regulation of deep body temperature. This review focuses on healthy and disordered human temperature regulation during heat stress. Central to this discussion is the notion that various morphological features, intrinsic factors, diseases, and injuries independently and interactively influence deep body temperature during exercise and/or exposure to hot ambient temperatures. The first sections review fundamental aspects of the human heat stress response, including the biophysical principles governing heat balance and the autonomic control of heat loss thermoeffectors. Next, we discuss the effects of different intrinsic factors (morphology, heat adaptation, biological sex, and age), diseases (neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic, and genetic), and injuries (spinal cord injury, deep burns, and heat stroke), with emphasis on the mechanisms by which these factors enhance or disturb the regulation of deep body temperature during heat stress. We conclude with key unanswered questions in this field of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1907-1989
Number of pages83
JournalPhysiological reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • core temperature
  • environment
  • exercise
  • skin blood flow
  • sweating
  • vasodilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology (medical)


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