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Neuroimage. 2013 May 1;71:248-59. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.01.011. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Cerebral microvascular network geometry changes in response to functional stimulation.

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Imaging Research, Sunnybrook Research Institute, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M4N 3M5.


The cortical microvessels are organized in an intricate, hierarchical, three-dimensional network. Superimposed on this anatomical complexity is the highly complicated signaling that drives the focal blood flow adjustments following a rise in the activity of surrounding neurons. The microvascular response to neuronal activation remains incompletely understood. We developed a custom two photon fluorescence microscopy acquisition and analysis to obtain 3D maps of neuronal activation-induced changes in the geometry of the microvascular network of the primary somatosensory cortex of anesthetized rats. An automated, model-based tracking algorithm was employed to reconstruct the 3D microvascular topology and represent it as a graph. The changes in the geometry of this network were then tracked, over time, in the course of electrical stimulation of the contralateral forepaw. Both dilatory and constrictory responses were observed across the network. Early dilatory and late constrictory responses propagated from deeper to more superficial cortical layers while the response of the vertices that showed initial constriction followed by later dilation spread from cortical surface toward increasing cortical depths. Overall, larger caliber adjustments were observed deeper inside the cortex. This work yields the first characterization of the spatiotemporal pattern of geometric changes on the level of the cortical microvascular network as a whole and provides the basis for bottom-up modeling of the hemodynamically-weighted neuroimaging signals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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