Thermogenic and psychogenic recruitment of human eccrine sweat glands: Variations between glabrous and non-glabrous skin surfaces
Human eccrine sweat-gland recruitment and secretion rates were investigated from the glabrous (volar) and non-glabrous hand surfaces during psychogenic (mental arithmetic) and thermogenic stimuli (mild hyperthermia). It was hypothesised that these treatments would activate glands from both skin surfaces, with the non-thermal stimulus increasing secretion rates primarily by recruiting more sweat glands. Ten healthy men participated in two seated, resting trials in temperate conditions (25-26°C). Trials commenced under normothermic conditions during which the first psychogenic stress was applied. That was followed by passive heating (0.5°C mean body temperature elevation) and thermal clamping, with a second cognitive challenge then applied. Sudomotor activity was evaluated from both hands, with colourimetry used to identify activated sweat glands, skin conductance to determine the onset of precursor sweating and ventilated sweat capsules to measure rates of discharged sweating. From glandular activation and sweat rate data, sweat-gland outputs were derived. These psychogenic and thermogenic stimuli activated sweat glands from both the glabrous and non-glabrous skin surfaces, with the former dominating at the glabrous skin and the latter at the non-glabrous surface. Indeed, those stimuli individually accounted for ~90% of the site-specific maximal number of activated sweat glands observed when both stimuli were simultaneously applied. During the normothermic psychological stimulation, sweating from the glabrous surface was elevated via a 185% increase in the number of activated glands within the first 60s. The hypothetical mechanism for this response may involve the serial activation of additional eccrine sweat glands during the progressive evolution of psychogenic sweating.