Exposure to Blast Overpressure Impairs Cerebral Microvascular Responses and Alters Vascular and Astrocytic Structure

Rania Abutarboush*, Ming Gu, Usmah Kawoos, Saad H. Mullah, Ye Chen, Samantha Y. Goodrich, Margaret Lashof-Sullivan, Richard M. Mccarron, Jonathan K. Statz, Randy S. Bell, James R. Stone, Stephen T. Ahlers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Exposure to blast overpressure may result in cerebrovascular impairment, including cerebral vasospasm. The mechanisms contributing to this vascular response are unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between blast and functional alterations of the cerebral microcirculation and to investigate potential underlying changes in vascular microstructure. Cerebrovascular responses were assessed in sham- and blast-exposed male rats at multiple time points from 2 h through 28 days after a single 130-kPa (18.9-psi) exposure. Pial microcirculation was assessed through a cranial window created in the parietal bone of anesthetized rats. Pial arteriolar reactivity was evaluated in vivo using hypercapnia, barium chloride, and serotonin. We found that exposure to blast leads to impairment of arteriolar reactivity >24 h after blast exposure, suggesting delayed injury mechanisms that are not simply attributed to direct mechanical deformation. Observed vascular impairment included a reduction in hypercapnia-induced vasodilation, increase in barium-induced constriction, and reversal of the serotonin effect from constriction to dilation. A reduction in vascular smooth muscle contractile proteins consistent with vascular wall proliferation was observed, as well as delayed reduction in nitric oxide synthase and increase in endothelin-1 B receptors, mainly in astrocytes. Collectively, the data show that exposure to blast results in delayed and prolonged alterations in cerebrovascular reactivity that are associated with changes in the microarchitecture of the vessel wall and astrocytes. These changes may contribute to long-term pathologies involving dysfunction of the neurovascular unit, including cerebral vasospasm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3138-3157
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number22
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • blast overpressure
  • cerebrovascular reactivity
  • in vivo studies
  • microcirculation
  • vascular injury


Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure to Blast Overpressure Impairs Cerebral Microvascular Responses and Alters Vascular and Astrocytic Structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this