Effect of Pregnancy on Autoregulation of Cerebral Blood Flow in Anterior Versus Posterior Cerebrum
Severe preeclampsia and eclampsia are associated with brain edema that forms preferentially in the posterior cerebral cortex possibly because of decreased sympathetic innervation of posterior cerebral arteries and less effective autoregulation during acute hypertension. In the present study, we examined the effect of pregnancy on the effectiveness of cerebral blood flow autoregulation using laser Doppler flowmetry and edema formation by wet:dry weight in acute hypertension induced by phenylephrine infusion in the anterior and posterior cerebrum from nonpregnant (n=8) and late-pregnant (n=6) Sprague-Dawley rats. In addition, we compared the effect of pregnancy on sympathetic innervation by tyrosine hydroxylase staining of posterior and middle cerebral arteries (n=5–6 per group) and endothelial and neuronal NO synthase expression using quantitative PCR (n=3 per group). In nonpregnant animals, there was no difference in autoregulation between the anterior and posterior cerebrum. However, in late-pregnant animals, the threshold of cerebral blood flow autoregulation was shifted to lower pressures in the posterior cerebrum, which was associated with increased neuronal NO synthase expression in the posterior cerebral cortex versus anterior. Compared with the nonpregnant state, pregnancy increased the threshold of autoregulation in both brain regions that was related to decreased expression of endothelial NO synthase. Lastly, acute hypertension during pregnancy caused greater edema formation in both brain cortices that was not attributed to changes in sympathetic innervation. These findings suggest that, although pregnancy shifted the cerebral blood flow autoregulatory curve to higher pressures in both the anterior and posterior cortices, it did not protect from edema during acute hypertension.
- Received May 17, 2012.
- Revision received June 1, 2012.
- Accepted June 29, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.