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      Gender Differences in Cutaneous Laser Doppler Flow Response to Local Direct and Contralateral Cooling

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          To investigate the role of sympathetic neurovascular reactivity in the gender differences of cutaneous, cold-induced vasomotor response, we compared direct (at the site of cooling) and indirect (at a site remote from the cooling site) response measured by laser Doppler (LD) flowmetry in 12 healthy males and 12 healthy females. The females underwent testing twice, once in the follicular and once in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. We measured LD flow before and during local cooling of one hand at 15°C. We found that local cooling evokes a significantly greater decrease in cutaneous LD flow in females than in males in direct as well as in indirect response conditions (p < 0.05). Comparing the response in females in the different phases of menstrual cycle, we obtained a significantly greater direct response to local cooling in the luteal phase than in the follicular phase (p < 0.05). In contrast, there was no menstrual-cycle-dependent difference in the indirect response to cold. The results of our study strongly indicate that sympathetic neural reactivity, as assessed by way of an indirect response to a cold stimulus, significantly contributes to gender differences in the response to local cooling. In contrast, the variation in microvascular responsiveness to cold exposure due to the menstrual cycle is most probably caused by local vascular mechanisms rather than by variation in sympathetic neural reactivity to local cooling.

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          Quantitative assessment of thermal and pain sensitivity.

          Values for thermal specific and thermal pain thresholds were determined in 150 healthy volunteers, 67 women and 83 men, aged from 10 to 73 years. Warm-cold difference limen, heat pain and cold pain thresholds were assessed at the face, thenar, medial surface of the upper- and forearm, lateral mammary, lateral umbilical, anterior thigh and lateral leg regions, and lateral aspect of the dorsum of the foot. Temperature and pain sensitivity were assessed by the Marstock method. Temperature sensitivity was found obviously age-dependent. The correlation is linear. Women showed greater sensitivity for small temperature changes, reflected as warm-cold difference limen, and for heat pain and cold pain. Great variation of thermal and pain sensitivity of different body parts was significant in all volunteers, irrespective of age and sex. Interindividual variation was also considerable. Small intraindividual variability was found in measurements repeated in 4 consecutive days and after 4 weeks. Body length did not influence thermal and pain perception thresholds. There were no differences found in thermal and pain sensitivity between the left and the right side of the body.
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            Acute Estradiol and Progesterone Administration Reduced Cardiovascular and Catecholamine Responses to Mental Stress in Menopausal Women

            Steroid hormones are involved in the regulation of sympathoadrenal activity. Since the effect of sex steroids on the cardiovascular system and catecholamine secretion could also be exerted through an acute, nongenomic mechanism, we have studied the response to mental stress (color word test, CWT) in a group of 15 menopausal women during estrogen (100 µg of estradiol by patch), progesterone (100 mg i.m.) or placebo administration. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) increased during CWT in the three sessions (F = 11.0, p < 0.001) but the area under the curve of SBP was higher during placebo (2,855 ± 131 mm Hg·min) than during estradiol (2,585 ± 139 mm Hg·min) and progesterone (2,553 ± 179 mm Hg·min, p < 0.05 for both). Plasma epinephrine increased during CWT in the three sessions (F = 31.1, p < 0.001) and the plasma epinephrine response to mental stress was higher during placebo than during estradiol administration (F = 4.3, p < 0.01). The area under the curve of epinephrine was 10,342 ± 1,348 pmol/min·l during placebo and 7,280 ± 818 pmol/min·l during estradiol (p < 0.03). The plasma glycerol levels at the end of CWT were higher during placebo (0.26 ± 0.04 nmol/l) than during estradiol (0.19 ± 0.03 mmol/l) and progesterone (0.17 ± 0.04 mmol/l) administration (p < 0.05 for both). No significant differences were found in the responses of diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, norepinephrine and cortisol to mental stress during placebo and estradiol or progesterone administration. This study demonstrates that acute steroid administration is able to modify the cardiovascular and catecholamine response to mental stress in menopausal women.
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              Analysis of vascular responses evoked in the cutaneous circulation of one hand by cooling the contralateral hand


                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                June 2000
                24 May 2000
                : 37
                : 3
                : 183-188
                Institute of Physiology, School of Medicine, Ljubljana, Slovenia
                25729 J Vasc Res 2000;37:183–188
                © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, References: 24, Pages: 6
                Research Paper


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