Pulsatile flow drivers in brain parenchyma and perivascular spaces: a resistance network model study

Fluids Barriers CNS. 2018 Jul 16;15(1):20. doi: 10.1186/s12987-018-0105-6.


Background: In animal models, dissolved compounds in the subarachnoid space and parenchyma have been found to preferentially transport through the cortex perivascular spaces (PVS) but the transport phenomena involved are unclear.

Methods: In this study two hydraulic network models were used to predict fluid motion produced by blood vessel pulsations and estimate the contribution made to solute transport in PVS and parenchyma. The effect of varying pulse amplitude and timing, PVS dimensions, and tissue hydraulic conductivity on fluid motion was investigated.

Results: Periodic vessel pulses resulted in oscillatory fluid motion in PVS and parenchyma but no net flow over time. For baseline parameters, PVS and parenchyma peak fluid velocity was on the order of 10 μm/s and 1 nm/s, with corresponding Peclet numbers below 103 and 10-1 respectively. Peak fluid velocity in the PVS and parenchyma tended to increase with increasing pulse amplitude and vessel size, and exhibited asymptotic relationships with hydraulic conductivity.

Conclusions: Solute transport in parenchyma was predicted to be diffusion dominated, with a negligible contribution from convection. In the PVS, dispersion due to oscillating flow likely plays a significant role in PVS rapid transport observed in previous in vivo experiments. This dispersive effect could be more significant than convective solute transport from net flow that may exist in PVS and should be studied further.

Keywords: Biotransport; Bulk flow; Cerebrospinal fluid; Diffusion; Extracellular flow; Fluid mechanics; Glymphatic theory; Interstitial flow; Lumped parameter; Porous media; Rat cerebral cortex.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / metabolism
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Models, Biological*
  • Parenchymal Tissue / metabolism*
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology*