Regional variation in brain capillary density and vascular response to ischemia

Brain Res. 2001 Aug 10;910(1-2):81-93. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(01)02637-3.


Differences in brain neuroarchitecture have been extensively studied and recent results demonstrated that regional differences in the physiological properties of glial cells are equally common. Relatively little is known on the topographic differences in vascular supply, distribution and density of brain capillaries in different CNS regions. We developed a simple method consisting of intravascular injection of fluorescent dyes coupled to immunocytochemical techniques that allows for simultaneous observation of glia-neuronal-vascular interactions in immersion-fixed brain specimens from small rodents. This technique permits quantitative evaluation of regional differences in glial/neuronal distribution and the study of their relationship to vascular densities. Variations of this technique also allow the detection of abnormal microvasculature (i.e. 'leaky' vessels), a useful feature for studies of blood-brain barrier function in health and disease. By use of quantitative confocal microscopy, the three-dimensional geometry of cortical and hippocampal structures revealed remarkable differences in vascularization between cortical gray/white matter junction, and hippocampal formation (CA1 and CA3 regions). Significant differences were also observed within the same investigative region: CA1 was characterized by low capillary density compared to neighboring CA3. Following an ischemic insult, CA1 vessels had more extensive blood-brain barrier leakage than CA3 vessels. We conclude that in addition to neuronal and glial heterogeneity, cortical structures are also endowed with region-specific vascular patterns characterized by distinct pathophysiological responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology*
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Capillaries / pathology*
  • Capillaries / physiopathology
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology*
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fluorescent Dyes / pharmacokinetics
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein