To match the metabolic demands of the brain, mechanisms have evolved to couple neuronal activity to vasodilation, thus increasing local cerebral blood flow and delivery of oxygen and glucose to active neurons. Rather than relying on metabolic feedback signals such as the consumption of oxygen or glucose, the main signaling pathways rely on the release of vasoactive molecules by neurons and astrocytes, which act on contractile cells. Vascular smooth muscle cells and pericytes are the contractile cells associated with arterioles and capillaries respectively, which relax and induce vasodilation. Much progress has been made in understanding the complex signaling pathways of neurovascular coupling, but issues such as the contributions of capillary pericytes and astrocyte calcium signal remain contentious. Study of neurovascular coupling mechanisms is especially important as cerebral blood flow dysregulation is a prominent feature of Alzheimer's disease. In this article we will discuss developments and controversies in the understanding of neurovascular coupling and finish by discussing current knowledge concerning neurovascular uncoupling in Alzheimer's Disease.
Alzheimer’s disease, functional hyperemia, neurovascular coupling, neurovascular uncoupling, pericyte