1. Neurovascular inflammation is impaired in patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy. The aim of our study was to evaluate the distribution of nutritive and total skin blood flow in diabetic patients with and without neuropathy after neurovascular stimulation with acetylcholine.

2. Twenty patients with Type I diabetes, 10 with and 10 without neuropathy, and 10 age-matched non-diabetic control subjects, underwent microvascular investigations before and after neurovascular stimulation by intracutaneous application of acetylcholine. The capillary blood cell velocity in the nailfold of the hallux was measured by videophotometric capillaroscopy, and the total skin microcirculation in the same area by laser Doppler flowmetry.

3. The increase in total skin blood flow was significantly impaired in the group of neuropathic diabetic patients compared with the non-neuropathic diabetic patients (17.5 ± 83 versus 51.0 ± 16.2; P < 0.05) and the non-diabetic subjects (17.5 ± 8.3 versus 67.8 ± 19.7; P < 0.01). The increase in capillary blood flow was not significantly impaired in Type 1 diabetes patients with neuropathy.

4. The ratio between capillary blood flow and total skin perfusion decreased significantly in the control group (from 0.82 ± 0.15 to 0.47 ± 0.11; P < 0.005) and in the Type I diabetes patients without neuropathy (from 0.79 ± 0.12 to 0.43 ± 0.12; P < 0.05), whereas the decrease in the neuropathic group was statistically insignificant (from 1.05 ± 0.19 to 0.72 ±0.16).

5. Diminished total skin perfusion in the foot after intracutaneous stimulation with acetylcholine in Type I diabetes patients is associated with diabetic neuropathy, indicating a disturbance in the neurovascular reflex arc. This impaired neurovascular response is caused by a diminished total and sub-papillary blood flow and not by a diminished nutritive capillary flow. There is no evidence of a diminished nutritive capillary blood flow during neurogenic inflammation in Type I diabetes patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy.

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