Sex differences during a cold-stress test in normobaric and hypobaric hypoxia: A randomized controlled crossover study

Erich Hohenauer, Wolfgang Taube, Livia Freitag, Ron Clijsen

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Cold and hypoxia are two stressors that are frequently combined and investigated in the scientific literature. Despite the growing literature regarding normobaric hypoxia (NH) and hypobaric hypoxia (HH), responses between females and males are less often evaluated. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the physiological sex differences following a cold-stress test under normoxia, normobaric- and hypobaric hypoxia. A total of n = 10 females (24.8 ± 5.1 years) and n = 10 males (30.3 ± 6.3 years) from a university population volunteered for this study. The cold-stress test (CST) of the right hand (15°C for 2 min) was performed using a randomised crossover design in normobaric normoxia, NH and HH. The change (∆) from baseline to post-CST up to 15 min was analysed for cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) and the hands' skin temperature, whilst the mean values across time (post-CST up to 15 min) were assessed for peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2), thermal sensation- and comfort. Pressure pain threshold (PPT) was assessed after the post-CST 15 min period. The hands' skin temperature drop was higher (p = 0.01) in the female group (∆3.3 ± 1.5°C) compared to the male group (∆1.9 ± 0.9°C) only in NH. Females (-0.9 ± 0.5) rated this temperature drop in NH to feel significantly colder (p = 0.02) compared to the males (-0.2 ± 0.7). No differences were observed between sexes in NN, NH, and HH for ∆CVC, SpO2, thermal comfort and PPT. In conclusion, females and males show similar reactions after a CST under normoxia and hypoxia. Sex differences were observed in the local skin temperature response and thermal sensation only in NH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number998665
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Thim van der Laan AG for the support.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Hohenauer, Taube, Freitag and Clijsen.

Copyright 2022 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • cold
  • cold and hypoxia
  • hypoxia
  • physiology
  • sex difference


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