23 August, 2015    #54

Blood Pressure and Astrocytes

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A star-shaped brain cell called an Astrocyte appears to help keep blood pressure and blood flow inside the brain on a healthy, even keel, scientists report.


Like a health-care worker keeping tabs on a patient's blood pressure, the finger-like appendages of Astrocytes, called “end-feet”, quite literally wrap around the countless, fragile blood vessels in the brain, constantly monitoring what's going on inside and around them, said Dr. Jessica A. Filosa, neurovascular physiologist in the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.


Filosa calls Astrocytes "housekeepers" and the new findings indicate that, when they sense a change in blood pressure inside the fragile parenchymal arterioles, one of their many duties is releasing signals that help dilate or constrict the blood vessels, whichever it takes to maintain the healthy status quo.


 "This is the first evidence of the Astrocyte's role in pressure-induced myogenic (muscle) tone, which is keeping things regular," said Filosa, corresponding author of the study in The Journal of Neuroscience.


In fact, Astrocytes keep their fingers on the pulse of blood vessels and neurons simultaneously, apparently playing an important role in balancing their needs. "They are perfect bridges between what is going on with neuronal activity and blood flow changes to the brain”.

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Mike Kohut, President, DDMS




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