Novel method for microcirculation diagnosis provided new insights into migraine

July 13, 2018, ITMO University
Parts of new microcirculation diagnosis system. Credit: ITMO University

Russian scientists have developed a new optical method for non-invasive diagnosis of blood circulation in capillaries. The method is based on video recording of the skin surface with simultaneous registration of light absorption by red blood cells. Using this method, the scientists found that people suffering from migraine showed some malfunctions in capillary regulation. This technique can also be used to study strokes and diabetes, as well as for blood circulation monitoring during brain surgery. The results are published in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

Capillary blood circulation plays crucial role in tissue metabolism. The total number of capillaries in the human body exceeds several billion. If such a big, branched system fails to work in coordination, this can lead to a stroke or , for example. However, coordination mechanisms are still not fully understood. To study these mechanisms, the scientists used new non-invasive methods. One is optical plethysmography, proposed by scientists from Russia in collaboration with their colleagues from Finland.

Plethysmography graphically records how blood flow volume changes under functional loads. This data is necessary to assess the vessels' state. Although this method is usually used to assess the total blood flow, now, scientists have created a system for local capillary circulation. The system consists of green LEDs, video camera with polarization filtering and special software. When illuminated with green light, the red blood cells change the reflected wave polarization. The camera registers only the signal with altered polarization and the computer tracks the distribution. Their accumulation implies that the intensity of blood flow is enhanced by the opening of additional capillaries.

The new method's effectiveness was checked by the experiment studying capillary blood circulation in case of migraine. During the experiment, scientist wanted to check if the nervous regulation of capillary circulation of people suffering from migraines differs from those unaffected. Participants of the experiment had pepper patches applied to their skin. Pepper patches contain capsaicin, a substance that excites nerve endings and in normal conditions, stimulates the opening of additional capillaries to enhance blood flow.

"We found that patients with migraine had quite inadequate response to capsaicin. This can be the evidence for malfunctions in the molecular mechanisms of regulation. However, before drawing any conclusions, we need to investigate this issue more deeply. Now we have an effective tool for such work. New optics allow us to simultaneously evaluate a large area of the surface. In 30 seconds, we get information about the dynamics of red blood cell distribution in the entire field of view. Conventional sensors would never give such a result," says Alexei Kamshilin from ITMO University.

Prototype and second version of the system. Credit: ITMO University

According to the scientists, this diagnostic system for capillary blood can be used not only for migraines studies, it is also suitable for studying strokes or diabetes. Combined with an endoscope, the system can be used to investigate the microcirculation of internal organs. In addition, the method is promising for monitoring cerebral cortex supply during neurological operations.

Explore further: Medical imaging technology detects vascular disorders, injuries in brain without invasive contrast agents

More information: Alexei A. Kamshilin et al. Novel capsaicin-induced parameters of microcirculation in migraine patients revealed by imaging photoplethysmography, The Journal of Headache and Pain (2018). DOI: 10.1186/s10194-018-0872-0

Related Stories

Medical imaging technology detects vascular disorders, injuries in brain without invasive contrast agents

June 5, 2018
Purdue University researchers have developed an analytical imaging technology based on functional MRI for detecting and monitoring cerebral vascular disorders and injuries that does not require the use of contrast agents.

Virtual exploratory tours of blood vessel networks

February 26, 2018
Researchers at the Universities of Bayreuth and Marburg have succeeded in creating high-definition images of human blood vessels magnified thousands of times. Using virtual reality glasses from the world of computer games, ...

Recommended for you

Cell biology: The role of the alkaline phosphatase (Alpl) gene in preventing premature bone ageing

September 26, 2018
Mutations of the alkaline phosphatase (ALPL) gene in the liver, bone and kidney can cause hypophosphatasia (HPP) and early-onset bone dysplasia, asserting its key role in human bone development. Despite its importance, its ...

Bacteria-fighting viruses could provide new approach to promoting gut health

September 26, 2018
Intentionally putting viruses into one's body might seem like a bad idea, but a study conducted at Colorado State University has demonstrated that a combination of bacteria-killing viruses is not only safe for humans, but ...

Skin wounds in older mice are less likely to scar

September 25, 2018
Researchers have discovered a rare example in which the mammalian body functions better in old age. A team at the University of Pennsylvania found that, in skin wounds in mice, being older increased tissue regeneration and ...

Study finds that enzymes 'partner up' to accelerate cancer, aging diseases

September 25, 2018
A new study from molecular biologists at Indiana University has identified cellular processes that appear to supercharge both the growth and shrinkage of the chemical "caps" on chromosomes associated with aging, called telomeres.

Extracellular RNA in urine may provide useful biomarkers for muscular dystrophy

September 25, 2018
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers have found that extracellular RNA (exRNA) in urine may be a source of biomarkers for the two most common forms of muscular dystrophy, noninvasively providing information about ...

3-D bioPen: A hydrogel injection to regenerate cartilage

September 25, 2018
Highly specialized cartilage is characteristically avascular and non-neural in composition with low cell numbers in an aliphatic environment. Despite its apparent simplicity, bioengineering regenerative hyaline cartilage ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.