Evidence of altered epidermal nerve fiber morphology in adults with self-injurious behavior and neurodevelopmental disorders

Frank J Symons, Gwen Wendelschafer-Crabb, William R Kennedy, Ronald Hardrict, Norm Dahl, James W. Bodfish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this preliminary study was to examine the morphology and neuropeptide density of epidermal nerve fibers quantified through skin biopsy samples from three adults with neurodevelopmental disorders and chronic self-injurious behavior (SIB) secondary to mental retardation compared with non-SIB normal IQ controls. A cross-sectional design was used with 3 mm punch skin biopsies collected from each participant from non-self-injurious body sites and compared with site-matched existing normal control skin samples. The study was conducted at an outpatient clinic. The primary dependent measure for the morphology analyses was the coefficient of variation (CV) to quantify the mean gap length between epidermal nerve fibers for each subject. Visual microscopic examination and quantitative analysis of the microscopy images suggested there were morphological abnormalities (increased CV) in the epidermal nerve fibers among the chronic SIB cases. Substance P (SP) fiber density was increased with 2-3 times as many fibers in SIB subjects as control subjects. Additional empirical work is needed to clarify the relation between sensory innervation of the skin and self-injury to improve assessment and treatment outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-237
Number of pages6
JournalPain
Volume134
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, by a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship (Symons) and NIH Grant No. HD44763. Our thanks to dedicated parents and their children.

Keywords

  • Cutaneous innervation
  • Pain
  • Self-injurious behavior

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence of altered epidermal nerve fiber morphology in adults with self-injurious behavior and neurodevelopmental disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this