Responses of cerebral arteries and arterioles to acute hypotension and hypertension

Am J Physiol. 1978 Apr;234(4):H371-83. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.1978.234.4.H371.


The responses of cerebral precapillary vessels to changes in arterial blood pressure were studied in anesthetized cats equipped with cranial windows for the direct observation of the pial microcirculation of the parietal cortex. Vessel responses were found to be size dependent. Between mean arterial pressures of 110 and 160 mmHg autoregulatory adjustments in caliber, e.g., constriction when the pressure rose and dilation when the pressure decreased, occurred only in vessels larger than 200 micron in diameter. Small arterioles, less than 100 micron in diameter, dilated only at pressures equal to or less than 90 mmHg; below 70 mmHg their dilation exceeded that of the larger vessels. When pressure rose to 170- 200 mmHg, small vessels dilated while the larger vessels remained constricted. At very high pressures (greater than 200 mmHg) forced dilation was frequently irreversible and was accompanied by loss of responsiveness to hypocapnia. Measurement of the pressure differences across various segments of the cerebral vascular bed showed that the larger surface cerebral vessels, extending from the circle of Willis to pial arteries 200 micron in diameter, were primarily responsible for the adjustments in flow over most of the pressure range.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cats
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Female
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Vasodilation