Local IP3 receptor–mediated Ca2+ signals compound to direct blood flow in brain capillaries

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Science Advances  21 Jul 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 30, eabh0101
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abh0101


Healthy brain function depends on the finely tuned spatial and temporal delivery of blood-borne nutrients to active neurons via the vast, dense capillary network. Here, using in vivo imaging in anesthetized mice, we reveal that brain capillary endothelial cells control blood flow through a hierarchy of IP3 receptor–mediated Ca2+ events, ranging from small, subsecond protoevents, reflecting Ca2+ release through a small number of channels, to high-amplitude, sustained (up to ~1 min) compound events mediated by large clusters of channels. These frequent (~5000 events/s per microliter of cortex) Ca2+ signals are driven by neuronal activity, which engages Gq protein–coupled receptor signaling, and are enhanced by Ca2+ entry through TRPV4 channels. The resulting Ca2+-dependent synthesis of nitric oxide increases local blood flow selectively through affected capillary branches, providing a mechanism for high-resolution control of blood flow to small clusters of neurons.

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