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Reduced association between dendritic cells and corneal sub‐basal nerve fibers in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome

: Klitsch, A.; Evdokimov, D.; Frank, J.; Thomas, D.; Saffer, N.; Altenschildesche, C. Meyer zu; Sisignano, M.; Kampik, D.; Malik, R.A.; Sommer, C.; Üçeyler, N.

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Journal of the peripheral nervous system 25 (2020), No.1, pp.9-18
ISSN: 1085-9489
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()

In our study, we aimed at investigating corneal langerhans cells (LC) in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and small fiber neuropathy (SFN) as potential contributors to corneal small fiber pathology. We enrolled women with FMS (n = 134) and SFN (n = 41) who underwent neurological examination, neurophysiology, prostaglandin analysis in tear fluid, and corneal confocal microscopy (CCM). Data were compared with those of 60 age‐matched female controls. After screening for dry eye disease, corneal LC were counted and sub‐classified as dendritic (dLC) and non‐dendritic (ndLC) cells with or without nerve fiber association. We further analyzed corneal nerve fiber density (CNFD), length (CNFL), and branch density (CNBD). Neurological examination indicated deficits of small fiber function in patients with SFN. Nerve conduction studies were normal in all participants. Dry eye disease was more prevalent in FMS (17%) and SFN (28%) patients than in controls (5%). Tear fluid prostaglandin levels did not differ between FMS patients and controls. While corneal LC density in FMS and SFN patients was not different from controls, there were fewer dLC in association with nerve fibers in FMS and SFN patients than in controls (P < .01 each). Compared to controls, CNFL was lower in FMS and SFN patients (P < .05 each), CNFD was lower only in FMS patients (P < .05), and CNBD was lower only in SFN patients (P < .001). There was no difference in any CCM parameter between patients with and without dry eyes. Our data indicate changes in corneal innervation and LC distribution in FMS and SFN, potentially based on altered LC signaling.