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Home / Staying Healthy / Beauty and Skincare / Skin can sense several grades of temperatures; Study

Skin can sense several grades of temperatures; Study


Scientists have discovered the presence of several ion channels on the skin surface that allow it to sense a wide range of temperatures.

skin on sun 1

Scientists have discovered the presence of several ion channels on the skin surface that allow it to sense a wide range of temperatures.

The nerve cells on the surface of the skin have several pores that control the flow of ions (charged atoms) through the cell membrane. These pores are also known as ion channels and the way the ions flow through these controls the ability of the nerve cells to sense the level of heat on the skin.

For all these years, scientists were under the impression that there are four such heat-sensing channels because they had discovered four genes that code for the formation of these specific ion channels. This recent study shows that the proteins that make up these ion channels can combine in several different ways to give many more channels than the four known presently.

What this implies is that the human skin is capable of sensing a wider range of temperatures than currently assumed. Announcing this, Jie Zheng, leader of the University of California Davis School of Medicine team that performed the study said:

“Researchers in the past have assumed that because there are only four genes, there are only four heat-sensitive channels, but now we have shown that there are many more.”

A channel called TRPV1 that senses spicy flavors also senses a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. Another channel called TRPV3 senses flavors such as cinnamon, rosemary and vanilla and a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius.

This study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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