Hypercapnia-induced increases in cerebral blood flow: roles of adenosine, nitric oxide and cortical arousal

Brain Res. 1997 May 30;758(1-2):1-8. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(97)00154-6.


The roles of nitric oxide, adenosine and cortical arousal in the response to 7.5% CO2 inhalation were investigated by measuring cerebral blood flow bilaterally in the rat somatosensory cortices with laser-Doppler flow probes. Administration of N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME; 20 mg/kg, i.v.) significantly attenuated the response to hypercapnia (mean decrease of 47%). This effect was partially reversed by a subsequent administration of L-arginine. Caffeine (10 mg/kg, i.v.) also significantly reduced hypercapnic responses (mean decrease of 44%). Caffeine administration was also associated with a tendency for animals to exhibit electrocorticographic signs of arousal; often associated with a reduction in the attenuation of the flow response to CO2 inhalation. 8-(3-Chlorostyryl) caffeine (CSC, 1.0 mg/kg), a selective antagonist at adenosine A2a striatal receptors failed to attenuate CO2-evoked responses, whereas CGS 15943, a less selective A2a receptor antagonist, significantly reduced CO2 responses. These data from the rat suggest (1) that both nitric oxide and adenosine may contribute to pial arteriolar vasodilatation during hypercapnia, and (2) that CO2 inhalation acts as a potent stimulus for cortical arousal, with enhanced neuronal activity contributing to the vascular response. The effects of administration of adenosine antagonists, such as the methylxanthines antagonists caffeine and theophylline, on CBF responses to hypercapnia can potentially be negated by the ability of these agents to facilitate CO2-induced cortical arousal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Arousal / drug effects*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects*
  • Hypercapnia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Adenosine