Limitations of collateral flow after occlusion of a single cortical penetrating arteriole

Occlusions of penetrating arterioles, which plunge into cortex and feed capillary beds, cause severe decreases in blood flow and are potential causes of ischemic microlesions. However, surrounding arterioles and capillary beds remain flowing and might provide collateral flow around the occlusion. We used femtosecond laser ablation to trigger clotting in single penetrating arterioles in rat cortex and two-photon microscopy to measure changes in microvessel diameter and red blood cell speed after the clot. We found that after occlusion of a single penetrating arteriole, nearby penetrating and surface arterioles did not dilate, suggesting that alternate blood flow routes are not actively recruited. In contrast, capillaries showed two types of reactions. Capillaries directly downstream from the occluded arteriole dilated after the clot, but other capillaries in the same vicinity did not dilate. This heterogeneity in capillary response suggests that signals for vasodilation are vascular rather than parenchymal in origin. Although both neighboring arterioles and capillaries dilated in response to topically applied acetylcholine after the occlusion, the flow in the territory of the occluded arteriole did not improve. Collateral flow from neighboring penetrating arterioles is neither actively recruited nor effective in improving blood flow after the occlusion of a single penetrating arteriole. Keywords: collateral flow; imaging; stroke; two-photon microscopy; vasodilation; vasoregulation