Nailfold videocapillaroscopy and serum VEGF levels in scleroderma are associated with internal organ involvement

Maria De Santis, Angela Ceribelli, Francesca Cavaciocchi, Chiara Crotti, Marco Massarotti, Laura Belloli, Bianca Marasini, Natasa Isailovic, Elena Generali, Carlo Selmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Nailfold videocapillaroscopy (NVC) identifies the microvascular hallmarks of systemic sclerosis (SSc) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and may play a pivotal role in the associated vasculopathy. The aim of the present study was to compare NVC alterations with clinical subsets, internal organ involvement, and serum VEGF levels in a cohort of selected SSc cases. Methods: We studied 44 patients with SSc who were evaluated within 3 months from enrollment by NVC, skin score, severity index, pulmonary function tests, carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (DLCO), echocardiography, pulmonary high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), gastroesophageal (GE) endoscopy or manometry or X-ray, and serum autoantibodies. Serum VEGF-A levels were determined by ELISA in 72 SSc patients and 31 healthy controls. Results: Giant capillaries were inversely correlated with age (p = 0.034, r = −0.34) and to the extent of reticular pattern at HRCT (p = 0.04, r = −0.5). Avascular areas were directly correlated with capillaroscopy skin ulcer risk index (CSURI) (p = 0.006, r = +0.4) and severity index (p = 0.004, r = +0.5). The mean capillary density was directly correlated to the ulcer number (p = 0.02, r = +0.4) and to DLCO/alveolar volume (p = 0.02, r = +0.4) and inversely correlated with severity index (p = 0.01, r = −0.4) and skin score (p = 0.02, r = −0.4). Serum VEGF levels were higher in the SSc population vs controls (p = 0.03) and inversely correlated with DLCO (p = 0.01, r =−0.4) and directly with ground-glass and reticular pattern at HRCT (p = 0.04, r = +0.4 for both). Conclusions: Our data suggest the importance of NVC not only for the diagnosis, but also for the global evaluation of SSc patients. Of note, serum VEGF levels may act as a biomarker of interstitial lung involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalAutoimmunity Highlights
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmunity
  • Biomarkers
  • Endothelium
  • Personalized medicine
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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