Sumary of Study finds calcium precisely directs blood flow in the brain:
- Instead, the brain relies on the hundreds of miles of blood vessels within it to supply fresh energy via the blood.
- Yet, how the brain expresses a need for more energy during increased activity and then directs its blood supply to specific hot spots was, until now, poorly understood.
- Now, University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Vermont researchers have shown how the brain communicates to blood vessels when in need of energy, and how these blood vessels respond by relaxing or constricting to direct blood flow to specific brain regions.
- In their new paper, published on July 21 in Science Advances, the researchers say that understanding how the brain directs energy to itself in intricate detail can help determine what goes wrong in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, where faulty blood flow is a predictor for cognitive impairment.
- Large arteries feed medium-sized vessels known as arterioles that then feed even tinier capillaries — so small that only a single blood cell can pass through at once.
- In a 2017 Nature Neuroscience paper, the researchers showed that electrical pulses coursing through the capillaries direct blood flow from the medium-sized arterioles supplying large regions of the brain.
- For this latest paper, the team wanted to study the fine-tuning of blood as it flows through the capillaries to precisely regulate energy supply to tiny regions in the brain.
- “There seem to be two mechanisms working in tandem to ensure that energy in the form of blood makes it to specific regions of the brain: one broad and the other precise,” says Thomas Longden, Ph.