Objectives Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterised by the proof deterioration of microcirculation and the large structural changes of the microcirculatory vessels. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between functional and structural abnormalities of skin microcirculation in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods Thirty patients with SSc aged 16 to 68 years (mean age 47,46 + 2,41 yrs) were included in the study. Nineteen pts had limited cutaneous SSc (lSSc), and eleven – diffuse cutaneous SSc (dSSc). The morphological changes of skin capillaries were estimated by the nailfold capillary microscopy. The skin microcirculation was evaluated by laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF).
Results All studied patients showed an abnormal nailfold capillary pattern: enlargement of the capillary loop (dilated capillaries) and the loss of capillaries either diffusely or in limited areas. Depending on a degree of the nailfold capillaries changes the patients were divided into 3 groups: with mild (17 pts), moderate (14 pts) and severe (9 pts) changes. The level of basal skin blood flow in first group of the patients was 0,624 + 0,031v. In second group of the patients basal skin blood flow was 0,361 + 0,050v and there was also significantly below, when compared with first group of patients (p = 0,002). The lowest level of basal skin blood flow 0,212 + 0,063v was observed in the patients of third groups and also was significantly smaller than in the patients of first group (p < 0,001). There wasn’t a statistically significant difference in basal skin blood flow levels between 2nd and 3rd groups of the patients. The level of basal skin blood flow closely correlated with number of capillaries (r = 0,73; p < 0,001). In the patients with dSSc the greater decrease of number of capillaries was observed, than in the patients with lSSc. Basal skin blood flow in dSSc was considerably below, than in lSSc (0,438 + 0,040v and 0,250 + 0,063v respectively; p = 0,02).
Conclusion Thus, the microcirculation abnormalities closely correlated with structural changes of capillaries in SSc.
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