Occlusion of cortical ascending venules causes blood flow decreases, reversals in flow direction, and vessel dilation in upstream capillaries

The accumulation of small strokes has been linked to cognitive dysfunction. Although most animal models have focused on the impact of arteriole occlusions, clinical evidence indicates that venule occlusions may also be important. We used two-photon excited fluorescence microscopy to quantify changes in blood flow and vessel diameter in capillaries after occlusion of single ascending or surface cortical venules as a function of the connectivity between the measured capillary and the occluded venule. Clotting was induced by injuring the target vessel wall with femtosecond laser pulses. After an ascending venule (AV) occlusion, upstream capillaries showed decreases in blood flow speed, high rates of reversal in flow direction, and increases in vessel diameter. Surface venule occlusions produced similar effects, unless a collateral venule provided a new drain. Finally, we showed that AVs and penetrating arterioles have different nearest-neighbor spacing but capillaries branching from them have similar topology, which together predicted the severity and spatial extent of blood flow reduction after occlusion of either one. These results provide detailed insights into the widespread hemodynamic changes produced by cortical venule occlusions and may help elucidate the role of venule occlusions in the development of cognitive disorders and other brain diseases. Keywords: collateral flow; hemodynamics; nonlinear microscopy; stroke; vasoregulation