A thermosensory pathway that controls body temperature

Kazuhiro Nakamura, Shaun Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

241 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Defending body temperature against environmental thermal challenges is one of the most fundamental homeostatic functions that are governed by the nervous system. Here we describe a somatosensory pathway that essentially constitutes the afferent arm of the thermoregulatory reflex that is triggered by cutaneous sensation of environmental temperature changes. Using in vivo electrophysiological and anatomical approaches in the rat, we found that lateral parabrachial neurons are pivotal in this pathway by glutamatergically transmitting cutaneous thermosensory signals received from spinal somatosensory neurons directly to the thermoregulatory command center, the preoptic area. This feedforward pathway mediates not only sympathetic and shivering thermogenic responses but also metabolic and cardiac responses to skin cooling challenges. Notably, this 'thermoregulatory afferent' pathway exists in parallel with the spinothalamocortical somatosensory pathway that mediates temperature perception. These findings make an important contribution to our understanding of both the somatosensory system and thermal homeostasis-two mechanisms that are fundamental to the nervous system and to our survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
JournalNature Neuroscience
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Fingerprint

Body Temperature
Skin
Nervous System
Hot Temperature
Afferent Pathways
Shivering
Neurons
Temperature
Preoptic Area
Reflex
Homeostasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

A thermosensory pathway that controls body temperature. / Nakamura, Kazuhiro; Morrison, Shaun.

In: Nature Neuroscience, Vol. 11, No. 1, 01.2008, p. 62-71.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nakamura, Kazuhiro ; Morrison, Shaun. / A thermosensory pathway that controls body temperature. In: Nature Neuroscience. 2008 ; Vol. 11, No. 1. pp. 62-71.
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