Aims/hypothesis: Deterioration of microvascular function may have an early onset in individuals with type 1 diabetes mellitus. We hypothesised that microvascular autoregulation is impaired in children with type 1 diabetes and can be detected non-invasively by postocclusive reactive hyperaemia (PORH).
Methods: Microvascular autoregulation was assessed in 58 children with type 1 diabetes and 58 age- and sex-matched healthy controls by PORH using laser Doppler fluxmetry. Baseline perfusion, biological zero (defined as a 'no flow' laser Doppler signal during suprasystolic occlusion), peak perfusion following occlusion, time to peak and recovery time (time until baseline perfusion is resumed) were recorded and compared between the groups.
Results: Peak perfusion was higher in children with type 1 diabetes than in healthy controls (1.7 ± 0.93 AU [arbitrary units] vs 1.29 ± 0.46 AU; p = 0.004), and biological zero was lower in children with type 1 diabetes vs controls (0.14 ± 0.04 AU vs 0.19 ± 0.04 AU; p < 0.0001). No differences were seen between the groups in baseline perfusion, time to peak during PORH and recovery time following PORH.
Conclusions/interpretation: PORH reveals impaired microvascular autoregulation in children with type 1 diabetes. The higher peak perfusion might reflect a decline in the vasoconstrictive ability of arteriolar smooth muscle cells upstream of capillary beds in children with type 1 diabetes.