Capillary density: An important parameter in nailfold capillaroscopy

Microvasc Res. 2017 Jan:109:7-18. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2016.09.001. Epub 2016 Sep 7.


Nailfold capillaroscopy is one of the various noninvasive bioengineering methods used to investigate skin microcirculation. It is an effective examination for assessing microvascular changes in the peripheral circulation; hence it has a significant role for the diagnosis of Systemic sclerosis with the classic changes of giant capillaries as well as the decline in capillary density with capillary dropout. The decline in capillary density is one of microangiopathic features existing in connective tissue disease. It is detectable with nailfold capillaroscopy. This parameter is assessed by applying quantitative measurement. In this article, we reviewed a common method for calculating the capillary density and the relation between the number of capillaries as well as the existence of digital ulcers, pulmonary arterial hypertension, autoantibodies, scleroderma patterns and different scoring system.

Keywords: Antinuclear antibodies; Capillary density; Digital ulcer; Nailfold capillaroscopy; Pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Capillaries / physiopathology*
  • Erythrocytes / cytology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Microcirculation*
  • Microscopic Angioscopy
  • Middle Aged
  • Nails / blood supply*
  • Risk
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Ulcer / diagnosis
  • Video Recording


  • Autoantibodies