Capillary regression leads to sustained local hypoperfusion by inducing constriction of upstream transitional vessels


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In the brain, a microvascular sensory web coordinates oxygen delivery to regions of neuronal activity. This involves a dense network of capillaries that send conductive signals upstream to feeding arterioles to promote vasodilation and blood flow. Although this process is critical to the metabolic supply of healthy brain tissue, it may also be a point of vulnerability in disease. Deterioration of capillary networks is a hallmark of many neurological disorders and how this web is engaged during vascular damage remains unknown. We performed in vivo two-photon microscopy on young adult mural cell reporter mice and induced focal capillary injuries using precise two-photon laser irradiation of single capillaries. We found that ~63% of the injuries resulted in regression of the capillary segment 7-14 days following injury, and the remaining repaired to re-establish blood flow within 7 days. Injuries that resulted in capillary regression induced sustained vasoconstriction in the upstream arteriole-capillary transition (ACT) zone at least 21 days post-injury in both awake and anesthetized mice. This abnormal vasoconstriction involved attenuation of vasomotor dynamics and uncoupling from mural cell calcium signaling following capillary regression. Consequently, blood flow was reduced in the ACT zone and in secondary, uninjured downstream capillaries. These findings demonstrate how capillary injury and regression, as often seen in age-related neurological disease, can impair the microvascular sensory web and contribute to cerebral hypoperfusion. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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