Methodological issues in the assessment of skin microvascular endothelial function in humans

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2006 Sep;27(9):503-8. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Jul 31.


The study of microvascular function can be performed in humans using laser Doppler flowmetry of the skin. This technology lends itself to a wide range of applications for studying the endothelial function of skin blood vessels. We review the advantages and limitations of postocclusive hyperemia, local thermal hyperemia, acetylcholine iontophoresis, flowmotion and association with microdialysis as tools with which to investigate skin microvascular endothelial function in humans. Postocclusive hyperemia, thermal hyperemia and acetylcholine iontophoresis provide integrated indexes of microvascular function rather than specific endothelial markers. However, they are valuable tools and can be used as surrogate endpoints in clinical trials in which the assessment of microvascular function in humans is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperemia / physiopathology
  • Iontophoresis
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Microcirculation
  • Microdialysis
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Skin / blood supply*


  • Biomarkers
  • Acetylcholine