Physiology of the cerebrovascular adaptation to pregnancy

Abbie C Johnson
Handbook of Clinical Neurology 2020, 171: 85-96
The adaptation of the cerebral circulation to pregnancy is unique compared with other organs and circulatory systems, because the brain requires relatively constant blood flow and water and solute composition to maintain homeostasis. Thus, a major adaptation of the maternal cerebrovasculature to pregnancy is to maintain normalcy in the face of expanded plasma volume, increased cardiac output, and high levels of permeability factors. In this chapter, the effect of pregnancy on critical functions of the cerebral circulation is discussed, including changes occurring at the endothelium and blood-brain barrier (BBB), which protect the maternal brain from changes in BBB permeability. Further, pregnancy-induced changes in the structure and function of cerebral arteries, arterioles, and veins will be discussed as they relate to cerebral vascular resistance, hemodynamics, and cerebral blood flow autoregulation.

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