Ectatic blood vessels in port-wine stains lack innervation: possible role in pathogenesis

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1991 Mar;87(3):419-22. doi: 10.1097/00006534-199103000-00003.


The innervation pattern of port-wine stains was investigated using indirect immunohistochemistry with antibodies to protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5), neuron-specific enolase (NSE), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), and neurofilament (NF). The pathologically dilated vessels in the middle and deep dermis were found to have defective innervation with only single or no nerve fibers in their vicinity, while other structures in the skin showed a normal density of fibers. NSE- and PGP-like immunoreactive (-LI) nerve fibers were observed innervating vessels with a normal morphology and other structures in the skin, such as sweat glands and hair follicles, as free nerve endings and in nerve bundles. The nerve bundles were often seen to pass the ectatic vessels without giving off any branches. CGRP-LI nerve fibers were detected running toward epidermis, whereas no fibers were found around the ectatic vessels. NF-LI fibers were seen innervating normal vessels in dermis, while in relation to the dilated vessels, no or only occasional fibers were observed. The lack of innervation may be of importance for the development of the disease as a result of decreased tonus of the vessels and/or a loss of neuronal trophic factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Vessels / innervation
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / metabolism
  • Hemangioma / blood supply*
  • Hemangioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Skin / innervation
  • Skin Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase


  • Neuropeptides
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide