Cornea nerve fiber quantification and construction of phenotypes in patients with fibromyalgia
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Linda Oudejans, Xuan He, Marieke Niesters, Albert Dahan, Michael Brines, and Monique van Velzen

Department of Anesthesiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Sci Rep.

Cornea confocal microscopy (CCM) is a novel non-invasive method to detect small nerve fiber pathology. CCM generally correlates with outcomes of skin biopsies in patients with small fiber pathology. The aim of this study was to quantify the morphology of small nerve fibers of the cornea of patients with fibromyalgia in terms of density, length and branching and further phenotype these patients using standardized quantitative sensory testing (QST). Small fiber pathology was detected in the cornea of 51% of patients: nerve fiber length was significantly decreased in 44% of patients compared to age- and sex-matched reference values; nerve fiber density and branching were significantly decreased in 10% and 28% of patients. The combination of the CCM parameters and sensory tests for central sensitization, (cold pain threshold, mechanical pain threshold, mechanical pain sensitivity, allodynia and/or windup), yielded four phenotypes of fibromyalgia patients in a subgroup analysis: one group with normal cornea morphology without and with signs of central sensitization, and a group with abnormal cornea morphology parameters without and with signs of central sensitization. In conclusion, half of the tested fibromyalgia population demonstrates signs of small fiber pathology as measured by CCM. The four distinct phenotypes suggest possible differences in disease mechanisms and may require different treatment approaches.

BIOSEB Instruments Used:
Von Frey Filaments (Bio-VF-M)

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