Guttural pouches, brain temperature and exercise in horses

G. Mitchell, A. Fuller, Shane Maloney, N. Rump, D. Mitchell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    27 Citations (Scopus)


    Selective brain cooling (SBC) is defined as the lowering of brain temperature below arterial blood temperature. Artiodactyls employ a carotid rete, an anatomical heat exchanger, to cool arterial blood shortly before it enters the brain. The survival advantage of this anatomy traditionally is believed to be a protection of brain tissue from heat injury, especially during exercise. Perissodactyls such as horses do not possess a carotid rete, and it has been proposed that their guttural pouches serve the heat-exchange function of the carotid rete by cooling the blood that traverses them, thus protecting the brain from heat injury. We have tested this proposal by measuring brain and carotid artery temperature simultaneously in free-living horses. We found that despite evidence of cranial cooling, brain temperature increased by about 2.5 degrees C during exercise, and consistently exceeded carotid temperature by 0.2-0.5 degrees C. We conclude that cerebral blood flow removes heat from the brain by convection, but since SBC does not occur in horses, the guttural pouches are not surrogate carotid retes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)475-477
    JournalBiology Letters
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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