Topological basis for the robust distribution of blood to rodent neocortex

Pablo Blinder, Andy Y. Shih, Christopher Rafie, David Kleinfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The maintenance of robust blood flow to the brain is crucial to the health of brain tissue.We examined the pial network of the middle cerebral artery, which distributes blood from the cerebral arteries to the penetrating arterioles that source neocortical microvasculature, to characterize how vascular topologymay support such robustness. For both mice and rats, two features dominate the topology. First, interconnected loops span the entire territory sourced by the middle cerebral artery. Although the loops comprise <10% of all branches, they maintain the overall connectivity of the network after multiple breaks. Second,>80%of offshoots fromthe loops are stubs that end in a single penetrating arteriole, as opposed to trees with multiple penetrating arterioles.Wehypothesize that the loops and stubs protect bloodflowto the parenchyma froman occlusionin a surface vessel. To test this, we assayed the viability of tissue that was sourced by an individual penetrating arteriole following occlusion of a proximal branch in the surface loop.Weobserved that neurons remained healthy, even when occlusion led to a reduction in the local blood flow. In contrast, direct blockage of a single penetrating arteriole invariably led to neuronal death and formation of a cyst. Our results show that the surface vasculature functions as a grid for the robust allocation of blood in the event of vascular dysfunction. The combined results of the present and prior studies imply that the pial network reallocates blood in response to changing metabolic needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12670-12675
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - 13 Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Anastomoses
  • Imaging
  • Networks
  • Stroke
  • Vasculature


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