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J Biomed Opt. 2011 Apr;16(4):040503. doi: 10.1117/1.3567082.

Dermal reflectivity determined by optical coherence tomography is an indicator of epidermal hyperplasia and dermal edema within inflamed skin.


Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease resulting from genetic and environmental alterations of cutaneous immune responses. While numerous therapeutic targets involved in the immunopathogenesis of psoriasis have been identified, the in vivo dynamics of inflammation in psoriasis remain unclear. We undertook in vivo time course focus-tracked optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging to noninvasively document cutaneous alterations in mouse skin treated topically with Imiquimod (IMQ), an established model of a psoriasis-like disease. Quantitative appraisal of dermal architectural changes was achieved through a two parameter fit of OCT axial scans in the dermis of the form A(x, y, z) = ρ(x, y)exp [-μ(x, y)z]. Ensemble averaging over 2000 axial scans per mouse in each treatment arm revealed no significant changes in the average dermal attenuation rate, <μ>, however the average local dermal reflectivity <ρ>, decreased significantly following 1, 3, and 6 days of IMQ treatment (p < 0.001) in comparison to vehicle-treated control mice. In contrast, epidermal and dermal thickness changes were only significant when comparing controls and 6-day IMQ treated mice. This suggests that dermal alterations, attributed to collagen fiber bundle enlargement, occur prior to epidermal thickness changes due to hyperplasia and dermal thickness changes due to edema. Dermal reflectivity positively correlated with epidermal hyperplasia (r(epi)(2) = 0.78) and dermal edema (r(derm)(2) = 0.86). Our results suggest that dermal reflectivity as measured by OCT can be utilized to quantify a psoriasis-like disease in mice, and thus has the potential to aid in the quantitative assessment of psoriasis in humans.

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