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      Quantification of small fiber pathology in patients with sarcoidosis and chronic pain using cornea confocal microscopy and skin biopsies

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          Abstract

          Small fiber pathology with concomitant chronic neuropathic pain is a common complication of sarcoidosis. The gold standard of diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is the quantification of small nerve fibers in skin biopsies in combination with patient history and psychophysical tests; a new technique is the quantification of small nerve fibers in the cornea using cornea confocal microscopy (CCM). Here, we studied small fiber morphology in sarcoidosis patients with neuropathic pain using skin biopsies, CCM, and quantitative sensory testing (QST). Our aim was to construct specific phenotypes of neuropathic pain in sarcoidosis. Fifty-eight patients with a confirmed diagnosis of sarcoidosis and with moderate-to-severe neuropathic pain were tested. Decreased intraepidermal nerve fiber density (IENFD) from skin biopsies was found in 28% of patients, and CCM abnormalities were observed in 45% of patients. There was no correlation between CCM and IENFD abnormalities. Eighty-three percent of patients had abnormal thermal detection thresholds, a sign of small fiber dysfunction. Based on the presence or absence of abnormalities in IENFD and CCM, four distinct phenotypes were identified with a distinct homogeneous pattern of somatosensory symptoms. We argue that these distinct phenotypes have a similar mechanistic construct with specific phenotype-specific treatment options. Additionally, our data suggest the presence of patients with length- and nonlength-dependent SFN within this population of sarcoidosis patients.

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          Surrogate markers of small fiber damage in human diabetic neuropathy.

          Surrogate markers of diabetic neuropathy are being actively sought to facilitate the diagnosis, measure the progression, and assess the benefits of therapeutic intervention in patients with diabetic neuropathy. We have quantified small nerve fiber pathological changes using the technique of intraepidermal nerve fiber (IENF) assessment and the novel in vivo technique of corneal confocal microscopy (CCM). Fifty-four diabetic patients stratified for neuropathy, using neurological evaluation, neurophysiology, and quantitative sensory testing, and 15 control subjects were studied. They underwent a punch skin biopsy to quantify IENFs and CCM to quantify corneal nerve fibers. IENF density (IENFD), branch density, and branch length showed a progressive reduction with increasing severity of neuropathy, which was significant in patients with mild, moderate, and severe neuropathy. CCM also showed a progressive reduction in corneal nerve fiber density (CNFD) and branch density, but the latter was significantly reduced even in diabetic patients without neuropathy. Both IENFD and CNFD correlated significantly with cold detection and heat as pain thresholds. Intraepidermal and corneal nerve fiber lengths were reduced in patients with painful compared with painless diabetic neuropathy. Both IENF and CCM assessment accurately quantify small nerve fiber damage in diabetic patients. However, CCM quantifies small fiber damage rapidly and noninvasively and detects earlier stages of nerve damage compared with IENF pathology. This may make it an ideal technique to accurately diagnose and assess progression of human diabetic neuropathy.
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            Intraepidermal nerve fiber density at the distal leg: a worldwide normative reference study.

            The diagnostic reliability of skin biopsy in small fiber neuropathy depends on the availability of normative reference values. We performed a multicenter study to assess the normative values of intraepidermal nerve fiber (IENF) density at distal leg stratified by age deciles. Eight skin biopsy laboratories from Europe, USA, and Asia submitted eligible data. Inclusion criteria of raw data were healthy subjects 18 years or older; known age and gender; 3-mm skin biopsy performed 10-cm above the lateral malleolus; bright-field immunohistochemistry protocol, and quantification of linear IENF density in three 50-µm sections according to published guidelines. Data on height and weight were recorded, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated in subjects with both available data. Normative IENF density reference values were calculated through quantile regression analysis; influence of height, weight, or BMI was determined by regression analyses. IENF densities from 550 participants (285 women, 265 men) were pooled. We found a significant age-dependent decrease of IENF density in both genders (women p < 0.001; men p = 0.002). Height, weight, or BMI did not influence the calculated 5th percentile IENF normative densities in both genders. Our study provides IENF density normative reference values at the distal leg to be used in clinical practice. © 2010 Peripheral Nerve Society.
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              Automatic analysis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy using multi-scale quantitative morphology of nerve fibres in corneal confocal microscopy imaging.

              Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is one of the most common long term complications of diabetes. Corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) image analysis is a novel non-invasive technique which quantifies corneal nerve fibre damage and enables diagnosis of DPN. This paper presents an automatic analysis and classification system for detecting nerve fibres in CCM images based on a multi-scale adaptive dual-model detection algorithm. The algorithm exploits the curvilinear structure of the nerve fibres and adapts itself to the local image information. Detected nerve fibres are then quantified and used as feature vectors for classification using random forest (RF) and neural networks (NNT) classifiers. We show, in a comparative study with other well known curvilinear detectors, that the best performance is achieved by the multi-scale dual model in conjunction with the NNT classifier. An evaluation of clinical effectiveness shows that the performance of the automated system matches that of ground-truth defined by expert manual annotation.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                1178-7090
                2017
                26 August 2017
                : 10
                : 2057-2065
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Anesthesiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands
                [2 ]Araim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Tarrytown, NY, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Albert Dahan, Department of Anesthesiology, Leiden University Medical Center, H5-P, 2300 RC, Leiden, the Netherlands, Tel +31 71 526 2301, Fax +31 71 526 6230, Email a.dahan@ 123456lumc.nl
                Article
                jpr-10-2057
                10.2147/JPR.S142683
                5584894
                © 2017 Oudejans et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Categories
                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                chronic pain, sarcoidosis, small fiber neuropathy

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