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Peripheral microangiopathy in precapillary pulmonary hypertension: a nailfold video capillaroscopy prospective study

  • Arvanitaki, Alexandra1, 2, 3
  • Giannakoulas, George2
  • Triantafyllidou, Eva3
  • Feloukidis, Christos2
  • Boutou, Afroditi K.4
  • Garyfallos, Alexandros3
  • Karvounis, Haralambos2
  • Dimitroulas, Theodoros3
  • 1 University Hospital Muenster, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Muenster, 48149, Germany , Muenster (Germany)
  • 2 AHEPA University Hospital, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 1 St. Kyriakidi Street, Thessaloniki, 54636, Greece , Thessaloniki (Greece)
  • 3 Hippokration University Hospital, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 49 Konstantinoupoleos Street, Thessaloniki, 54642, Greece , Thessaloniki (Greece)
  • 4 G. Papanikolaou Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece , Thessaloniki (Greece)
Published Article
Respiratory Research
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Jan 21, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s12931-021-01622-1
Springer Nature


BackgroundAlthough pulmonary vascular bed has been the main subject of research for many years in pulmonary hypertension (PH), interest has recently started to divert towards the possibility of a co-existing peripheral microangiopathy. The aim of the current study was to investigate the presence of nailfold video-capillaroscopic (NVC) structural changes in patients with precapillary PH and to identify possible associations of NVC measurements with markers of disease severity.MethodsΑ prospective case–control study was performed in 28 consecutive patients with precapillary PH [14 with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) and 14 with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH)] and 30 healthy controls. NVC quantitative and qualitative parameters were evaluated using Optilia Digital Capillaroscope. To ensure inter-observer repeatability capillaroscopic images were reviewed by two independent investigators. For multiple comparisons among continuous variables, one-way ANOVA or the Kruskal–Wallis test were used. Differences between the groups were tested with post-hoc analysis with adjustment for multiple comparisons (Bonferroni test).ResultsBoth IPAH (71.4% were women, mean age 53.1 ± 13.4 years) and CTEPH (64.3% women, mean age 60.9 ± 14.4 years) groups presented reduced capillary density compared to healthy controls (8.4 ± 1.2 loops/mm and 8.0 ± 1.2 loops/mm vs. 9.7 ± 0.81 loops/mm, p < 0.001) and increased loop width (15.7 ± 3.9 μm and 15.8 ± 1.9 μm vs. 11.5 ± 2.3 μm, p < 0.001). More than half of patients with IPAH presented microhaemorrhages on capillary nailfold, while increased shape abnormalities in capillary morphology and more capillary thrombi per linear mm were detected in patients with CTEPH compared to patients with IPAH and healthy controls. All PH patients presented a non-specific NVC pattern compared to controls (p < 0.001).ConclusionThe findings of the study reveal a degree of significant peripheral microvascular alterations in patients with IPAH and CTEPH, suggesting a generalized impairment of peripheral microvasculature in pulmonary vascular disease.

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