The general aim of this project was to develop experimental in vivo models that allow for minimally invasive investigations of responses in the skin to microvascular and metabolic provocations. The cutaneous microvasculature has emerged as a valuable model and been proposed to mirror the microcirculation in other organs. Dysfunction in the cutaneous microcirculation has thus been linked to systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Models for investigating skin responses could facilitate the understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms as well as effects of drugs.
In the first study, three optical measurement techniques (laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF), laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) and tissue viability imaging (TiVi)) were compared against each other and showed differences in their ability to detect microvascular responses to provocations in the skin. TiVi was found more sensitive for measurement of noradrenaline-induced vasoconstriction, while LSCI was more sensitive for measurement of vascular occlusion. In the second study, microvascular responses in the skin to iontophoresis of vasoactive drugs were found to depend on the drug delivery protocol. Perfusion half-life was defined and used to describe the decay in the microvascular response to a drug after iontophoresis. In the third study, the role of nitric oxide (NO) was assessed during iontophoresis of insulin. The results showed a NO-dependent vasodilation in the skin by insulin. In the fourth study the vasoactive and metabolic effects of insulin were studied after both local and endogenous administration. Local delivery of insulin increased skin blood flow, paralleled by increased skin concentrations of interstitial pyruvate and lactate, although no change in glucose concentration was observed. An oral glucose load resulted in an increased insulin concentration in the skin paralleled by an increase in blood flow, as measured using the microdialysis urea clearance technique, although no changes in perfusion was measured by LSCI.
The thesis concludes that when studying skin microvascular responses, the choice of measurement technique and the drug delivery protocol has an impact on the measurement results, and should therefore be carefully considered. The thesis also concludes that insulin has metabolic and vasodilatory effects in the skin both when administered locally and as an endogenous response to an oral glucose load. The vasodilatory effect of insulin in the skin is mediated by nitric oxide.