Relationship between the distribution of pseudoxanthoma elasticum skin and mucous membrane lesions and cardiovascular involvement


Atsushi Utani, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Dermatology, Kyoto University, Graduate School of Medicine, 54 Kawahara-cho, Shogoin, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan. Email:


Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) primarily affects organs that are abundant in elastic fibers, such as the skin, eye and blood vessels, and may eventually cause loss of vision or cardiovascular disease (CVD). Because CVD is a potentially life-threatening complication, its early detection is important for improving the quality of life of PXE patients. To determine the relationship between the distribution of skin and mucous membrane lesions and the prevalence of CVD in patients with PXE, we examined 14 PXE cases who presented between 2004 and 2007. All patients had angioid streaks (AS) and positive pathological findings. The skin lesions in PXE patients are distributed discontinuously and thus the degrees of skin involvement were assessed by determining the presence or absence of PXE skin and mucous membrane lesions in six sites (oral mucosa, neck, periumbilical region, cubital fossa, axillae and inguinal regions). Each site was given a binary score (i.e. present = 1, absent = 0) irrespective of severity and the scores were summed to yield a total distribution score (potential range of 0–6). Four cases had PXE-associated CVD. Their mean distribution score was 5.7, which was significantly higher than the score of the cases without CVD (1.8) (= 0.0049). There was also significant correlation between the high distribution score (= 0.0053) as well as CVD (= 0.029) with the maximum width of AS. A higher distribution score and the presence of oral mucosal lesions were associated with CVD. This scoring method may be useful for predicting the presence of CVD in PXE patients.