Increasing evidence from epidemiological, clinical and experimental studies indicate that age-related cerebromicrovascular dysfunction and microcirculatory damage play critical roles in the pathogenesis of many types of dementia in the elderly, including Alzheimer's disease. Understanding and targeting the age-related pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID) is expected to have a major role in preserving brain health in older individuals. Maintenance of cerebral perfusion, protecting the microcirculation from high pressure-induced damage and moment-to-moment adjustment of regional oxygen and nutrient supply to changes in demand are prerequisites for the prevention of cerebral ischemia and neuronal dysfunction. This overview discusses age-related alterations in three main regulatory paradigms involved in the regulation of cerebral blood flow (CBF): cerebral autoregulation/myogenic constriction, endothelium-dependent vasomotor function and neurovascular coupling responses responsible for functional hyperemia. Pathophysiological consequences of cerebral microvascular dysregulation in aging are explored, including blood brain barrier disruption, neuroinflammation, exacerbation of neurodegeneration, development of cerebral microhemorrhages, microvascular rarefaction and ischemic neuronal dysfunction and damage. Due to the widespread attention that VCID have captured in recent years the evidence for the causal role of cerebral microvascular dysregulation in cognitive decline is critically examined.
- Alzheimer's disease
- cerebral circulation
- vascular aging
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology