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Brain Circ. 2018 Apr-Jun;4(2):43-53. doi: 10.4103/bc.bc_6_18. Epub 2018 Jun 29.

Cerebrovascular dysfunction with stress and depression.

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Department of Neuroscience, West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, Morgantown, WV, USA.
Division of Exercise Physiology, West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, Morgantown, WV, USA.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University, Huntington, WV, USA.


Maintenance of adequate tissue perfusion through a dense network of cerebral microvessels is critical for the perseveration of normal brain function. Regulation of the cerebral blood flow has to ensure adequate delivery of nutrients and oxygen with moment-to-moment adjustments to avoid both hypo- and hyper-perfusion of the brain tissue. Even mild impairments of cerebral blood flow regulation can have significant implications on brain function. Evidence suggests that chronic stress and depression elicits multifaceted functional impairments to the cerebral microcirculation, which plays a critical role in brain health and the pathogenesis of stress-related cognitive impairment and cerebrovascular events. Identifying the functional and structural changes to the brain that are induced by stress is crucial for achieving a realistic understanding of how related illnesses, which are highly disabling and with a large economic cost, can be managed or reversed. This overview discusses the stress-induced alterations in neurovascular coupling with specific attention to cerebrovascular regulation (endothelial dependent and independent vasomotor function, microvessel density). The pathophysiological consequences of cerebral microvascular dysfunction with stress and depression are explored.


Depression; metabolic syndrome; stress; vascular

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