Functional imaging with new photoacoustic tomography (PAT) offers improved spatial and temporal resolution quality in in vivo human skin vascular assessments. In the present study, we followed a suprasystolic reactive hyperemia (RH) maneuver with a multi-spectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) system. A convenience sample of ten participants, both sexes, mean age of 35.8 ± 13.3 years old, was selected. All procedures were in accordance with the principles of good clinical practice and approved by the institutional ethics committee. Images were obtained at baseline (resting), during occlusion, and immediately after pressure release. Observations of the RH by PAT identified superficial and deeper vascular structures parallel to the skin surface as part of the human skin vascular plexus. Furthermore, PAT revealed that the suprasystolic occlusion impacts both plexus differently, practically obliterating the superficial smaller vessels and evoking stasis at the deeper, larger structures in real-time (live) conditions. This dual effect of RH on the skin plexus has not been explored and is not considered in clinical settings. Thus, RH seems to represent much more than the local microvascular reperfusion as typically described, and PAT offers a vast potential for vascular clinical and preclinical research.

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