Spectral Changes in Skin Blood Flow Do Not Reflect Pressure Manipulations

Natalia S. Lima, Yi Ting Tzen, Philip S. Clifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Skin blood flow is commonly assessed by laser Doppler flowmetry. It has been suggested that pathophysiological conditions can be assessed by analysis of frequency domains of the laser Doppler signals. The frequency range of 0.06-0.15 Hz has been associated with myogenic control of skin blood flow. We tested the hypothesis that changes in blood pressure would be detectable by short-time Fourier transform of the myogenic portion of the laser Doppler signal. Laser Doppler sensors were placed on the right ventral forearm of fourteen healthy young volunteers (8 males, 6 females, age 30±6 years, mean ± SD) and a photoplethysmography sensor on the middle finger of the right arm. Measurements of skin blood flow were made with the right arm supported at heart level. Intravascular pressure of the forearm was manipulated by positioning the arm ~50˚ above the heart level to decrease pressure and lowering the arm ~50˚ below the heart level to increase pressure. Short-time Fourier analyses were computed over the range 0.06 to 0.15 Hz. There were no statistically significant differences (p = 0.526) in spectral densities for baseline (5±7 x 10-4dB, median ± SD), arm above heart (7±54 x 10-4dB), and arm below heart (7±14 x 10-4dB). The results demonstrate that spectral density in the myogenic frequency range is unchanged by manipulation of intravascular pressure. We conclude that spectral analysis of laser Doppler signals in the myogenic range does not reflect changes in blood pressure. These findings suggest that myogenic changes in the skin vasculature cannot be inferred from spectral analysis of laser Doppler signals.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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