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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jan 24;109(4):1293-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1119658109. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

Hypoxic regulation of the cerebral microcirculation is mediated by a carbon monoxide-sensitive hydrogen sulfide pathway.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.


Enhancement of cerebral blood flow by hypoxia is critical for brain function, but signaling systems underlying its regulation have been unclear. We report a pathway mediating hypoxia-induced cerebral vasodilation in studies monitoring vascular disposition in cerebellar slices and in intact mouse brains using two-photon intravital laser scanning microscopy. In this cascade, hypoxia elicits cerebral vasodilation via the coordinate actions of H(2)S formed by cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) and CO generated by heme oxygenase (HO)-2. Hypoxia diminishes CO generation by HO-2, an oxygen sensor. The constitutive CO physiologically inhibits CBS, and hypoxia leads to increased levels of H(2)S that mediate the vasodilation of precapillary arterioles. Mice with targeted deletion of HO-2 or CBS display impaired vascular responses to hypoxia. Thus, in intact adult brain cerebral cortex of HO-2-null mice, imaging mass spectrometry reveals an impaired ability to maintain ATP levels on hypoxia.

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