Current Concepts in Assessment of Microvascular Endothelial Function Using Laser Doppler Imaging and Iontophoresis

Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2008 May;18(4):109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2008.02.001.


Effective evaluation of endothelial function is a powerful tool for determining patients at risk of development and progression of cardiovascular disease. As an alternative to invasive tests of endothelial function, several noninvasive methods have been developed, including the use of laser Doppler flowmetry/imaging to measure cutaneous perfusion accompanied by iontophoresis of acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside. It is clear from previous studies that this technique provides an easy, validated, and reproducible method for investigators to assess and monitor endothelial function in patients with a variety of pathologic conditions, but it may also be used to examine disease progression over time and responsiveness to treatment, thereby facilitating clinical trials. However, a standardization of protocols would help reduce the apparent controversy seen in the literature. With its increasing use by other groups, it is anticipated that further published studies will help to provide a better understanding of the development and progression of cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / administration & dosage
  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Endothelium, Vascular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Iontophoresis* / standards
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry* / standards
  • Microcirculation / diagnostic imaging
  • Microcirculation / physiopathology
  • Nitroprusside / administration & dosage
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroprusside
  • Acetylcholine