Deeper Penetration of Erythrocytes into the Endothelial Glycocalyx Is Associated with Impaired Microvascular Perfusion

Dae Hyun Lee, Martijn J. C. Dane, Bernard M. van den Berg, Margien G. S. Boels, Jurgen W. van Teeffelen, Renee de Mutsert, Martin den Heijer, Frits R. Rosendaal, Johan van der Vlag, Anton Jan van Zonneveld, Hans Vink, Ton J. Rabelink*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Changes in endothelial glycocalyx are one of the earliest changes in development of cardiovascular disease. The endothelial glycocalyx is both an important biological modifier of interactions between flowing blood and the vessel wall, and a determinant of organ perfusion. We hypothesize that deeper penetration of erythrocytes into the glycocalyx is associated with reduced microvascular perfusion. The population-based prospective cohort study (the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity [NEO] study) includes 6,673 middle-aged individuals (oversampling of overweight and obese individuals). Within this cohort, we have imaged the sublingual microvasculature of 915 participants using sidestream darkfield (SDF) imaging together with a recently developed automated acquisition and analysis approach. Presence of RBC (as a marker of microvascular perfusion) and perfused boundary region (PBR), a marker for endothelial glycocalyx barrier properties for RBC accessibility, were assessed in vessels between 5 and 25 mm RBC column width. A wide range of variability in PBR measurements, with a mean PBR of 2.14 mm (range: 1.43-2.86 mm), was observed. Linear regression analysis showed a marked association between PBR and microvascular perfusion, reflected by RBC filling percentage (regression coefficient beta: -0.034; 95% confidence interval: -0.037 to -0.031). We conclude that microvascular beds with a thick ("healthy'') glycocalyx (low PBR), reflects efficient perfusion of the microvascular bed. In contrast, a thin ("risk'') glycocalyx (high PBR) is associated with a less efficient and defective microvascular perfusion.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere96477
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2014

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