Molecular biomarkers for assessing the heat-adapted phenotype: a narrative scoping review

J. Corbett, J. S. Young, M. J. Tipton, J. T. Costello, T. B. Williams, E. F. Walker, B. J. Lee, C. E. Stevens

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Heat acclimation/acclimatisation (HA) mitigates heat-related decrements in physical capacity and heat-illness risk and is a widely advocated countermeasure for individuals operating in hot environments. The efficacy of HA is typically quantified by assessing the thermo-physiological responses to a standard heat acclimation state test (i.e. physiological biomarkers), but this can be logistically challenging, time consuming, and expensive. A valid molecular biomarker of HA would enable evaluation of the heat-adapted state through the sampling and assessment of a biological medium. This narrative review examines candidate molecular biomarkers of HA, highlighting the poor sensitivity and specificity of these candidates and identifying the current lack of a single ‘standout’ biomarker. It concludes by considering the potential of multivariable approaches that provide information about a range of physiological systems, identifying a number of challenges that must be overcome to develop a valid molecular biomarker of the heat-adapted state, and highlighting future research opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Number of pages24
JournalThe Journal of Physiological Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2023


  • Heat
  • Acclimation
  • Acclimatisation
  • Hormone
  • Heat shock protein

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