The Effects of Thoracic and Cervical Spinal Cord Lesions on the Circadian Rhythm of Core Body Temperature

Dick H. J. Thijssen, Thijs M. H. Eijsvogels, Marina Hesse, Dov B. Ballak, Greg Atkinson, Maria T. E. Hopman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) have compromised afferent and efferent information below the lesion. Intact afferent information regarding skin temperature and the ability to regulate skin blood flow lead to an altered heat balance, which may impact the circadian variation in core body temperature (Tcore) and sleep-wake cycle. The authors assessed the circadian variation of Tcore in SCI individuals and able-bodied controls matched for the timing of the sleep-wake cycle. The authors examined subjects who had a high (cervical) or a low (thoracic) lesion. Intestinal Tcore (telemetry system) and physical activity (ambulatory activity monitor) levels were measured continuously and simultaneously in 8 tetraplegics, 7 paraplegics, and 8 able-bodied controls during one 24-h period of “normal” living. The regression slope between activity and Tcore was also calculated for each 2-h bin. Circadian rhythm parameters were estimated with partial Fourier time-series analysis, and groups were compared with general linear models, adjusted for the influence of individual wake-time. The (mean ± SD) dominant period length for controls, paraplegics, and tetraplegics were 24.4 ± 5.4 h, 22.5 ± 5.0 h, and 16.5 ± 5.1 h, respectively (p = .02). A significantly more pronounced 8-h harmonic was found for the variation in Tcore of SCI individuals (p = .05). Tetraplegics showed the highest nocturnal mean Tcore (p = .005), a 5-h phase-advanced circadian trough time (p = .04), and more variable relationships between physical activity and Tcore (p = .03). Taken together, tetraplegics demonstrate a pronounced disturbance of the circadian variation of Tcore, whereas the variation of Tcore in paraplegics was comparable to able-bodied controls.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)146-154
    JournalChronobiology International
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


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