Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Perivascular nerves and the regulation of cerebrovascular tone.

Brain perfusion is tightly coupled to neuronal activity, is commonly used to monitor normal or pathological brain function, and is a direct reflection of the interactions that occur between neuronal signals and blood vessels. Cerebral blood vessels at the surface and within the brain are surrounded by nerve fibers that originate, respectively, from peripheral nerve ganglia and intrinsic brain neurons. Although of different origin and targeting distinct vascular beds, these "perivascular nerves" fulfill similar roles related to cerebrovascular functions, a major one being to regulate their tone and, therein, brain perfusion. This utmost function, which underlies the signals used in functional neuroimaging techniques and which can be jeopardized in pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and migraine headache, is thus regulated at several levels. Recently, new insights into our understanding of how neural input regulate cerebrovascular tone resulted in the rediscovery of the functional "neurovascular unit." These remarkable advances suggest that neuron-driven changes in vascular tone result from interactions that involve all components of the neurovascular unit, transducing neuronal signals into vasomotor responses not only through direct interaction between neurons and vessels but also indirectly via the perivascular astrocytes. Neurovascular coupling is thus determined by chemical signals released from activated perivascular nerves and astrocytes that alter vascular tone to locally adjust perfusion to the spatial and temporal changes in brain activity.

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