The brain possesses two intricate mechanisms that fulfill its continuous metabolic needs: cerebral autoregulation, which ensures constant cerebral blood flow over a wide range of arterial pressures and functional hyperemia, which ensures rapid delivery of oxygen and glucose to active neurons. Over the past decade, a number of important studies have identified astrocytes as key intermediaries in neurovascular coupling (NVC), the mechanism by which active neurons signal blood vessels to change their diameter. Activity-dependent increases in astrocytic Ca2+ activity are thought to contribute to the release of vasoactive substances that facilitate arteriole vasodilation. A number of vasoactive signals have been identified and their role on vessel caliber assessed both in vitro and in vivo. In this review, we discuss mechanisms implicating astrocytes in NVC-mediated vascular responses, limitations encountered as a result of the challenges in maintaining all the constituents of the neurovascular unit intact and deliberate current controversial findings disputing a main role for astrocytes in NVC. Finally, we briefly discuss the potential role of pericytes and microglia in NVC-mediated processes.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||14|
|State||Published - May 26 2016|
- Cerebral blood flow
- Myogenic tone
- Neurovascular coupling
ASJC Scopus subject areas