Anesthesia and the quantitative evaluation of neurovascular coupling

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2012 Jul;32(7):1233-47. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2012.50. Epub 2012 Apr 18.


Anesthesia has broad actions that include changing neuronal excitability, vascular reactivity, and other baseline physiologies and eventually modifies the neurovascular coupling relationship. Here, we review the effects of anesthesia on the spatial propagation, temporal dynamics, and quantitative relationship between the neural and vascular responses to cortical stimulation. Previous studies have shown that the onset latency of evoked cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes is relatively consistent across anesthesia conditions compared with variations in the time-to-peak. This finding indicates that the mechanism of vasodilation onset is less dependent on anesthesia interference, while vasodilation dynamics are subject to this interference. The quantitative coupling relationship is largely influenced by the type and dosage of anesthesia, including the actions on neural processing, vasoactive signal transmission, and vascular reactivity. The effects of anesthesia on the spatial gap between the neural and vascular response regions are not fully understood and require further attention to elucidate the mechanism of vascular control of CBF supply to the underlying focal and surrounding neural activity. The in-depth understanding of the anesthesia actions on neurovascular elements allows for better decision-making regarding the anesthetics used in specific models for neurovascular experiments and may also help elucidate the signal source issues in hemodynamic-based neuroimaging techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / adverse effects*
  • Anesthetics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans


  • Anesthetics