Correlations between nailfold microvascular damage and skin involvement in systemic sclerosis patients

Microvasc Res. 2019 Sep;125:103874. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2019.04.004. Epub 2019 Apr 8.


Objective: The aim of this study was to identify any correlations between microvascular damage, assessed by nailfold videocapillaroscopy and skin impairment, evaluated by three different methods, the modified Rodnan skin score (mRSS), skin high-frequency ultrasound (US) and the plicometer skin test (PST) in systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients.

Methods: Sixty-three SSc patients and 63 healthy subjects were enrolled. Nailfold videocapillaroscopy (NVC) was used to assess the nailfold capillaroscopy pattern ("Early", "Active" or "Late"), according to the Cutolo classification. All subjects were assessed by mRSS, US and PST to evaluate their dermal thickness (DT) in the seventeen skin areas of the body usually evaluated by mRSS (zygoma, fingers, hands, dorsum of hands, forearms, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs, legs, feet). Statistical evaluation was performed by nonparametric tests.

Results: All the three methods demonstrated progressively higher values of skin impairment in patients with "Early", "Active" or "Late" pattern of nailfold microangiopathy (for mRSS p < 0.01, US p < 0.02 and PST p < 0.02). A positive correlation was also observed in SSc patients between the three methods used to evaluate skin involvement (mRSS vs US, mRSS vs PST, PST vs US, p < 0.0001 respectively).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that there is a correlation between two of the most important aspects to classify and monitor the SSc patients, i.e. microvascular damage progression (evaluated by NVC) and skin damage (assessed by mRss, US and PST).

Keywords: Dermal thickness; Modified Rodnan skin score; Nailfold microangiopathy; Nailfold videocapillaroscopy; Plicometer skin test; Skin high-frequency ultrasound; Systemic sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Capillaries / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopic Angioscopy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nails / blood supply*
  • Observer Variation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnostic imaging
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / pathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Ultrasonography