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Pharmacol Ther. 1993 Aug;59(2):229-50.

The effect of carbon dioxide on cerebral arteries.

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  • 1Research Service, Zablocki Veterans Administration Hospital, Milwaukee, WI.


The constancy of cerebral blood flow and volume relies heavily upon the cerebral arteries' intrinsic ability to respond to changes in the partial pressure of arterial CO2. The physiologic mechanisms underlying these responses have not been determined, although changes in extracellular and intracellular pH, mediation by prostanoids and neural activity have been suggested. CO2 reactivity can be influenced by oxygen status and blood pressure and can vary according to age and brain region. In certain pathological conditions or diseases, it can be severely altered. Modern techniques, which measure CBF in cases of cerebral hemodynamic insufficiency, head injury or tumor, rely on the inherent ability of the cerebral circulation to respond to changing levels of CO2.

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