There are limited imaging technologies available that can accurately assess or provide surrogate markers of the in vivo cutaneous microvessel network in humans. In this study, we establish the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) as a novel imaging technique to assess acute changes in cutaneous microvessel area density and diameter in humans. OCT speckle decorrelation images of the skin on the ventral side of the forearm up to a depth of 500 μm were obtained prior to and following 20-25 mins of lower limb heating in eight healthy males (30.3±7.6 yrs). Skin red blood cell flux was also collected using laser Doppler flowmetry probes immediately adjacent to the OCT skin sites, along with skin temperature. OCT speckle decorrelation images were obtained at both baseline and heating time points. Forearm skin flux increased significantly (0.20±0.15 to 1.75±0.38 CVC, P<0.01), along with forearm skin temperature (32.0±1.2 to 34.3±1.0°C, P<0.01). Quantitative differences in the automated calculation of vascular area densities (26±9 to 49±19%, P<0.01) and individual microvessel diameters (68±17 to 105±25 μm, P<0.01) were evident following the heating session. This is the first in vivo within-subject assessment of acute changes in the cutaneous microvasculature in response to heating in humans and highlights the use of OCT as an exciting new imaging approach for skin physiology and clinical research.
- Skin microvessels
- Optical coherence tomography
- laser Doppler flowmetry
- Copyright © 2015, Journal of Applied Physiology