Finger anthropometrics may not be a primary influence on the thermal responses to cooling and rewarming

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The fingers have a large surface area to volume ratio (SA:V), minimal muscle mass, and potent vasoconstrictor capacity. These qualities make the fingers prone to heat loss and freezing injuries during whole-body or local cold exposure. Anthropologists have proposed that the large inter-individual variability in human finger anthropometrics may be an ecogeographic evolutionary adaptation, where shorter and thicker digits (i.e. smaller SA:V ratio) provide a favorable adaptation for cold climate natives. We hypothesized that the SA:V ratio of a digit has an inverse relationship with finger blood flux and finger temperature (Tfinger) during cooling and rewarming from cold. Fifteen healthy adults with no or limited cold experiment experience performed 10 min of baseline immersion in warm water (35.0 ± 0.1°C), 30 min in cold water (8.4 ± 0.2°C), and a final 10 min of rewarming in ambient air (~22°C, ~40% relative humidity). Tfinger and finger blood flux were measured continuously across multiple digits per participant. Average Tfinger (p = 0.05; R2 = 0.06) and area under the curve for Tfinger (p = 0.05; R2 = 0.07) during hand cooling showed significant, negative correlations to digit SA:V ratio. There was no relationship between digit SA:V ratio and blood flux (i.e. average blood flux and AUC) during cooling as well as between SA:V ratio and digit temperature (i.e. average Tfinger and AUC) or blood flux (i.e. average blood flux and AUC) during rewarming. Overall, digit anthropometrics do not appear to play a dominant role in extremity cold response.

StatusE-pub ahead of print - 22 jul. 2022
Eksternt udgivetJa

Bibliografisk note


Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) through CGS-D funding (K.A. Wickham) and a Discovery grant (2018-04077; S.S. Cheung).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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