Astrocytes monitor cerebral perfusion and control systemic circulation to maintain brain blood flow

Nephtali Marina*, Isabel N. Christie, Alla Korsak, Maxim Doronin, Alexey Brazhe, Patrick S. Hosford, Jack A. Wells, Shahriar Sheikhbahaei, Ibrahim Humoud, Julian F.R. Paton, Mark F. Lythgoe, Alexey Semyanov, Sergey Kasparov, Alexander V. Gourine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)
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Astrocytes provide neurons with essential metabolic and structural support, modulate neuronal circuit activity and may also function as versatile surveyors of brain milieu, tuned to sense conditions of potential metabolic insufficiency. Here we show that astrocytes detect falling cerebral perfusion pressure and activate CNS autonomic sympathetic control circuits to increase systemic arterial blood pressure and heart rate with the purpose of maintaining brain blood flow and oxygen delivery. Studies conducted in experimental animals (laboratory rats) show that astrocytes respond to acute decreases in brain perfusion with elevations in intracellular [Ca2+]. Blockade of Ca2+-dependent signaling mechanisms in populations of astrocytes that reside alongside CNS sympathetic control circuits prevents compensatory increases in sympathetic nerve activity, heart rate and arterial blood pressure induced by reductions in cerebral perfusion. These data suggest that astrocytes function as intracranial baroreceptors and play an important role in homeostatic control of arterial blood pressure and brain blood flow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131 (2020)
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2020


  • arterial blood pressure
  • astrocytes
  • brain blood flow
  • cardiac output
  • heart rate
  • sympathetic


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