Microvasculature of the human cerebral white matter: arteries of the deep white matter

Neuropathology. 2003 Jun;23(2):111-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1789.2003.00486.x.


The vascular architecture of the human cerebral deep white matter was studied using soft X-ray and diaphanized specimens, achieved by intra-arterial injection of barium and vascular stain respectively, and also by electron microscopic examination of the corrosion cast of arteries in normal adult brains. The deep white matter arteries passed through the cerebral cortex with a few branches to the cortex and ran straight through the white matter. The arteries concentrated ventriculopetally to the white matter around the lateral ventricle. Anastomoses were noted around the ventricular wall at the terminals of the deep white matter arteries. No centrifugal branches irrigating the periventricular white matter from the lenticulo-striate arteries were observed in the present study. The presence of anastomoses among the terminal branches of deep white matter arteries protects against ischemic change or infarction in this area from an occlusion of a single deep white matter artery. This may lead to development of terminal zone infarction from ischemia or vascular diseases, affecting multiple deep white matter arteries. The subcortical and deep white matter arteries had thick adventitial sheaths and large adventitial spaces in the white matter but not in the cortex. The presence or absence of the adventitial space is regarded as another characteristic difference between the arteries in the white matter and cortex. This difference may influence pathological changes in vascular lesions in these respective areas.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Barium
  • Cerebral Arteries / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Corrosion Casting
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Telencephalon / blood supply*
  • Telencephalon / diagnostic imaging
  • Telencephalon / ultrastructure
  • X-Rays


  • Barium