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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Feb 2024 - 16 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 07



Bilateral deficiency of Meissner corpuscles and papillary microvessels in patients with acute complex regional pain syndrome.


Mehling K, Becker J, Chen J, Scriba S, Kindl G, Jakubietz R, Sommer C, Hartmannsberger B, Rittner HL


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) presents postinjury with disproportionate pain and neuropathic, autonomic, motor symptoms, and skin texture affection. However, the origin of these multiplex changes is unclear. Skin biopsies offer a window to analyze the somatosensory and vascular system as well as skin trophicity with their protecting barriers. In previous studies, barrier-protective exosomal microRNAs were altered in CRPS. We here postulated that tissue architecture and barrier proteins are already altered at the beginning of CRPS. We analyzed ipsilateral and contralateral skin biopsies of 20 fully phenotyped early CRPS patients compared with 20 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. We established several automated unbiased methods to comprehensively analyze microvessels and somatosensory receptors as well as barrier proteins, including claudin-1, claudin-5, and claudin-19. Meissner corpuscles in the skin were bilaterally reduced in acute CRPS patients with some of them lacking these completely. The number of Merkel cells and the intraepidermal nerve fiber density were not different between the groups. Dermal papillary microvessels were bilaterally less abundant in CRPS, especially in patients with allodynia. Barrier proteins in keratinocytes, perineurium of dermal nerves, Schwann cells, and papillary microvessels were not affected in early CRPS. Bilateral changes in the tissue architecture in early CRPS might indicate a predisposition for CRPS that manifests after injury. Further studies should evaluate whether these changes might be used to identify risk patients for CRPS after trauma and as biomarkers for outcome.