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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Jan;100(1):318-27.

Endothelial influences on cerebrovascular tone.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Suite 434D, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The cerebrovascular endothelium exerts a profound influence on cerebral vessels and cerebral blood flow. This review summarizes current knowledge of various dilator and constrictor mechanisms intrinsic to the cerebrovascular endothelium. The endothelium contributes to the resting tone of cerebral arteries and arterioles by tonically releasing nitric oxide (NO*). Dilations can occur by stimulated release of NO*, endothelium-derived hyperpolarization factor, or prostanoids. During pathological conditions, the dilator influence of the endothelium can turn to that of constriction by a variety of mechanisms, including decreased NO* bioavailability and release of endothelin-1. The endothelium may participate in neurovascular coupling by conducting local dilations to upstream arteries. Further study of the cerebrovascular endothelium is critical for understanding the pathogenesis of a number of pathological conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, and subarachnoid hemorrhage.

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