Sensory-Related Neural Activity Regulates the Structure of Vascular Networks in the Cerebral Cortex

Baptiste Lacoste, Cesar H. Comin, Ayal Ben-Zvi, Pascal S. Kaeser, Xiaoyin Xu, Lucianoda F. Costa, Chenghua Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Neurovascular interactions are essential for proper brain function. While the effect of neural activity oncerebral blood flow has been extensively studied, whether or not neural activity influences vascular patterning remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate that neural activity promotes the formation of vascular networks in the early postnatal mouse barrel cortex. Using a combination of genetics, imaging, and computational tools to allow simultaneous analysis of neuronal and vascular components, we found that vascular density and branching were decreased in the barrel cortex when sensory input was reduced by either a complete deafferentation, a genetic impairment of neurotransmitter release at thalamocortical synapses, or a selective reduction of sensory-related neural activity by whisker plucking. In contrast, enhancement of neural activity by whisker stimulation led to an increase in vascular density and branching. The finding that neural activity is necessary and sufficient to trigger alterations ofvascular networks reveals an important feature of neurovascular interactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1117-1130
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.


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