1. Primary Raynaud's phenomenon (PRP) is characterized by increased vasoconstrictor tone that develops during exposure to cold. The symptoms are most pronounced during the winter months with low outdoor temperature. The l-arginine—nitric oxide (NO)—cyclic GMP (cGMP) pathway plays an important role in counteracting vasospasm. The aim of the present study was to investigate if the venous cGMP response to whole-body cooling in women with PRP varied with the season of the year.
2. The study was performed as an open parallel-group comparison between women with PRP and healthy female controls during the winter months of February 1994 and 1995 and in the summer month of August 1994. Blood samples were drawn just before and 40 min after whole-body cooling.
3. There were no significant changes in venous cGMP after whole-body cooling in women with PRP during the winter months of February 1994 and 1995. Cold exposure in the summer month of August resulted, however, in a significant increase in venous cGMP (P < 0.01). In contrast, the healthy women responded with a significant increase in venous cGMP on all three test occasions: February 1994 (P < 0.05), August 1994 (P < 0.05) and February 1995 (P < 0.01)
4. A seasonal variation in venous cGMP response to whole-body cooling was observed only in women with PRP. Healthy women responded to cold exposure with an increase in venous cGMP during summer and winter, whereas females with PRP showed an increase only during summer. Results from the present study might indicate seasonal variation in the regulation of constitutive nitric oxide synthetase in women with PRP, which may contribute to new therapeutic approaches.