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Isolation and Cannulation of Cerebral Parenchymal Arterioles
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Intracerebral parenchymal arterioles (PAs), which include parenchymal arterioles, penetrating arterioles and pre-capillary arterioles, are high resistance blood vessels branching out from pial arteries and arterioles and diving into the brain parenchyma. Individual PA perfuse a discrete cylindrical territory of the parenchyma and the neurons contained within. These arterioles are a central player in the regulation of cerebral blood flow both globally (cerebrovascular autoregulation) and locally (functional hyperemia). PAs are part of the neurovascular unit, a structure that matches regional blood flow to metabolic activity within the brain and also includes neurons, interneurons, and astrocytes. Perfusion through PAs is directly linked to the activity of neurons in that particular territory and increases in neuronal metabolism lead to an augmentation in local perfusion caused by dilation of the feed PA. Regulation of PAs differs from that of better-characterized pial arteries. Pressure-induced vasoconstriction is greater in PAs and vasodilatory mechanisms vary. In addition, PAs do not receive extrinsic innervation from perivascular nerves - innervation is intrinsic and indirect in nature through contact with astrocytic endfeet. Thus, data regarding contractile regulation accumulated by studies using pial arteries does not directly translate to understanding PA function. Further, it remains undetermined how pathological states, such as hypertension and diabetes, affect PA structure and reactivity. This knowledge gap is in part a consequence of the technical difficulties pertaining to PA isolation and cannulation. In this manuscript we present a protocol for isolation and cannulation of rodent PAs. Further, we show examples of experiments that can be performed with these arterioles, including agonist-induced constriction and myogenic reactivity. Although the focus of this manuscript is on PA cannulation and pressure myography, isolated PAs can also be used for biochemical, biophysical, molecular, and imaging studies.