Tuning Brain Blood Flow

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Science  22 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6122, pp. 884
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6122.884-c

Although the brain is insulated from many systemic effects on blood flow, delicately regulated changes in blood flow bring resources to sites of high neuronal activity. Astrocytes are in contact with neurons, and astrocyte endfeet also touch the small blood vessels that penetrate the brain. Cerebral arteries dilate in response to glutamate and D-serine signaling through NMDA receptors. LeMaistre Stobart et al. have studied the signaling pathways by which astrocytes regulate the blood flow in arterioles in mouse brain slices and found that astrocytes can be a source of endogenous D-serine. D-serine found in the endfeet of astrocytes was released in response to the stimulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission. The subsequent vascular dilation required nitric oxide synthase and nitroic oxide signaling from intact vascular endothelium. These results suggest that astrocytes activated by neighboring neural activity call in additional blood flow by signaling for the local dilation of blood vessels.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110, 10.1073/pnas.1215929110 (2013).

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