IMR Press / JIN / Volume 20 / Issue 3 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin2003080
Open Access Perspective
Functional role of peripheral vasoconstriction: not only thermoregulation but much more
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1 Behavioral Neuroscience Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse–Intramural Research Program, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2021, 20(3), 755–764;
Submitted: 10 April 2021 | Revised: 29 April 2021 | Accepted: 21 May 2021 | Published: 30 September 2021
Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

Peripheral vasoconstriction is a centrally mediated physiological effect known to play an important role in regulating body temperature by adjusting heat exchange with the external environment. However, peripheral vasoconstriction as a component of sympathetic activation also occurs following exposure to various salient stimuli and during motivated behavior at stable environmental temperatures. This review aims to consider available evidence suggesting a significant contribution of this peripheral effect to physiological increases in both brain temperature and entry of oxygen and glucose into the brain’s extracellular space. While these effects are triggered by neuronal activation, constriction of blood vessels in the skin and most internal organs results in redistribution of blood from the peripheral to central domains, thus dilating cerebral vessels, increasing global cerebral blood flow, and enhancing the intra-brain entry of oxygen and glucose from arterial blood. This powerful influence appears to determine the long duration of physiological increases in both brain temperature and brain levels of glucose and oxygen and their basic similarity across different brain structures. This work underscores the tight interrelationship between the brain and periphery and a significant contribution of cardiovascular effects in providing the enhanced inflow of oxygen and glucose into brain tissue to prevent metabolic deficit during functional neural activation.

Brain temperature
Brain oxygen
Brain glucose
Neural activation
Peripheral vasoconstriction
Central vasodilation
Fig. 1.
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