Photoplethysmography (PPG) records the cardiac-induced changes in tissue blood volume by light-transmission measurements. The baseline and amplitude of the PPG signal show very low-frequency (VLF) spontaneous fluctuations, which are mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, and high correlation between right and left extremities of healthy subjects. As sympathetic neuropathy is one of the diabetic complications, the right-left correlation of the PPG fluctuations was examined in diabetic patients. The PPG signal was simultaneously measured in the two index fingers and the two second toes of 35 diabetic patients and 33 non-diabetic subjects. For each PPG pulse, the baseline and amplitude were determined, and the right-left correlation coefficients of the VLF fluctuations in the baseline and amplitude were derived. The VLF fluctuations in the baseline showed high right-left correlation, both for fingers (0.93 ± 0.05) and toes (0.93 ± 0.06), for the non-diabetic subjects, and significantly lower correlation (0.78 ± 0.22 and 0,84 ± 0.17, respectively) for the diabetic patients. Similar results were obtained for the amplitude VLF fluctuations. The right-left correlation coefficients for diabetic patients decreased with the disease duration for the toe baseline and toe amplitude fluctuations and correlated with heart rate response to deep breathing for the finger baseline and toe amplitude fluctuations. The right-left correlation coefficients of the PPG fluctuations provide a simple and convenient means for assessing the adequacy of the sympathetic nervous system function.
- Sympathetic neuropathy
- Very low-frequency variability