Efficient blood supply to the brain is of paramount importance to its normal functioning and improper blood flow can result in potentially devastating neurological consequences. Cerebral blood flow in response to neural activity is intrinsically regulated by a complex interplay between various cell types within the brain in a relationship termed neurovascular coupling. The breakdown of neurovascular coupling is evident across a wide variety of both neurological and psychiatric disorders including Alzheimer's disease. Atherosclerosis is a chronic syndrome affecting the integrity and function of major blood vessels including those that supply the brain, and it is therefore hypothesised that atherosclerosis impairs cerebral blood flow and neurovascular coupling leading to cerebrovascular dysfunction. This review will discuss the mechanisms of neurovascular coupling in health and disease and how atherosclerosis can potentially cause cerebrovascular dysfunction that may lead to cognitive decline as well as stroke. Understanding the mechanisms of neurovascular coupling in health and disease may enable us to develop potential therapies to prevent the breakdown of neurovascular coupling in the treatment of vascular brain diseases including vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease and stroke.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s; Atherosclerosis; Dementia; Disease modelling; Mouse; Neuroimaging; Neurovascular coupling; Vascular dementia.