Thermal Stress and Toxicity

Gordon C. J., Johnstone A. F. M., AYDIN C.

COMPREHENSIVE PHYSIOLOGY, vol.4, no.3, pp.995-1016, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/cphy.c130046
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.995-1016
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


Elevating ambient temperature above thermoneutrality exacerbates toxicity of most air pollutants, insecticides, and other toxic chemicals. On the other hand, safety and toxicity testing of toxicants and drugs is usually performed in mice and rats maintained at sub-thermoneutral temperatures of similar to 22 degrees C. When exposed to chemical toxicants under these relatively cool conditions, rodents typically undergo a regulated hypothermic response, characterized by preference for cooler ambient temperatures and controlled reduction in core temperature. Reducing core temperature delays the clearance of most toxicants from the body; however, a mild hypothermia also improves recovery and survival from the toxicant. Raising ambient temperature to thermoneutrality and above increases the rate of clearance of the toxicant but also exacerbates toxicity. Furthermore, heat stress combined with work or exercise is likely to worsen toxicity. Body temperature of large mammals, including humans, does not decrease as much in response to exposure to a toxicant. However, heat stress can nonetheless worsen toxic outcome in humans through a variety of mechanisms. For example, heat-induced sweating and elevation in skin blood flow accelerates uptake of some insecticides. Epidemiological studies suggest that thermal stress may exacerbate the toxicity of airborne pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter. Overall, translating results of studies in rodents to that of humans is a formidable task attributed in part to the interspecies differences in thermoregulatory response to the toxicants and to thermal stress. Published 2014.