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Autoimmune Diseases
Volume 2017, Article ID 3529214, 5 pages
Research Article

Increased Whole Blood Viscosity Is Associated with the Presence of Digital Ulcers in Systemic Sclerosis: Results from a Cross-Sectional Pilot Study

1Department of Nephrology and Rheumatology, University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany
2Division of Rheumatology and Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
3Department of Rheumatology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
4Rheovector LLC, King of Prussia, PA, USA
5Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
6Division of Rheumatology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
7Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Peter Korsten; ed.negnitteog-inu.dem@netsrok.retep

Received 18 August 2017; Revised 31 October 2017; Accepted 12 November 2017; Published 29 November 2017

Academic Editor: Ricard Cervera

Copyright © 2017 Peter Korsten et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To investigate the role of whole blood viscosity in digital ulcer (DU) development in patients with diffuse and limited Systemic sclerosis. Methods. A convenience sample of patients with Systemic sclerosis (SSc) was selected from the adult Rheumatology clinic at the University of Chicago. The study group consisted of patients with SSc (with ulcers present, a history of ulcers, and no ulcers); the control group consisted of matched healthy Rheumatology clinic staff. WBV was measured using a scanning capillary viscometer at different shear rates (1–1000 1/s). Results. Whole blood viscosity as measured by a scanning capillary viscometer was increased in patients with SSc compared to healthy controls (). Additionally, patients with present DU had significantly higher whole blood viscosity when compared to patients with a history of DU and patients with no history of DU (). These findings were most pronounced at lower shear rates between 1 and 10 1/s. Conclusion. Whole blood viscosity might be a contributing factor in DU development in patients with SSc. Further studies with larger patient cohorts are required to fully evaluate how increased WBV contributes to the development of DU and whether the currently available treatment options improve the microcirculation by influencing WBV.