Sumary of Study reveals calcium’s role in directing 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The first electrical mechanism is like a sledgehammer approach to get more blood to the general vicinity of the increased brain activity by controlling the medium-sized arterioles, and then capillary calcium signals ensure exquisite fine-tuning to make sure the blood gets to exactly the right place at the right time through the tiny capillaries.
- , Assistant Professor of Physiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine Dr. Longden and his collaborators used a protein which emits green light when calcium increases in the cell.