More specifically, I'm looking for how the brain perceives its own local blood pressure changes if it does and what are the mechanisms/reactions involved in this process if any are known to date.

I'm looking for research articles, not general information.

EDIT: To be even more specific: I'm looking for how the physical change of pressure in a vessel is converted into a neurological signal. What mechanisms, substances, organelles are locally involved. Is the blood pressure measured actively in certain zones of the brain? Is the mechanism different in different zones of the brain/body. Knowing the nature of the perception mechanism, what substances or conditions could lead into a wrong measurement of the blood pressure by our body. Are there any known problems about the mechanism that measures the blood pressure not working properly and what are the consequences.

I'm more interested in brain tissue local responses than in for example the relation between hypertension and cognition, etc.

1 Answer 1


This study published in 2014 provides an excellent review of the physiological mechanisms of cerebral blood flow regulation (open access):

Willie CK et al. Integrative regulation of human brain blood flow. J Physiol. 2014 Mar 1;592(5):841-59. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2013.268953.

Their list of references includes a very exhaustive list of studies conducted on this topic.

This study provides a figure which actually gives a good overview of the mechanisms of CBF regulation:

enter image description here

Here a small extract of the legend:

First, they give a small description of the brain vasculature

The central figure depicts the cerebrovasculature, comprised of two pairs of large arteries that branch from the sublavian arteries, i.e. the internal carotid arteries (ICAs) that carry ∼70% of total cerebral blood flow (CBF) and the vertebral arteries (VAs) that distribute ∼30% of total CBF to the brainstem, cerebellum and occipital cortex. The internal carotid arteries and vertebral arteriess anastomose to form the circle of Willis before branching out into the main intracerebral arteries that ramify extensively en route to the brain surface. At the surface, the vessels form a dense network of highly vasoactive arterioles within the pia mater before they penetrate into the cortex (inlay II).

Then they explain the role of intracranial pressure in the regulation of CBF

The driving pressure in this system is the cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) that is determined by the difference between mean arterial pressure (MAP) and intracranial pressure (ICP), in conditions where central venous pressure (CVP) is lower than ICP. In these conditions, MAP approximates CPP. As a result of the enclosed nature of the skull, ICP acts as a Starling resistor for cerebral venous outflow, a mechanism that is likely to be of greater importance with marked elevations in ICP or CVP, or both.

Cerebral arteries are the main actors in maintaining brain perfusion and react to changes in blood gases and to changes in perfusion pressure. Similarly, the pial vessels respond to changes in CPP, arterial partial pressures of O2 and CO2. Inlay III of their figure provides a good overview of the plial changes in response to blood gas alterations.

  • Hi Arrowsmith. Thanks for your answer. I'm currently editing my question because I've realized it is still not specific enough. Aug 26, 2016 at 21:22
  • Now that i've read your article I'm interested in the part of the driving pressure: difference between mean arterial pressure and intracranial one. I'll try searching more information using that. Aug 26, 2016 at 21:34
  • Ok. I have read your edit of the question. Though, I still think that the review in my answer provides a good overview. You can then deepen your understanding by reading the different references used by the authors to undertake their review. Best regards. M. Arrowsmith Aug 26, 2016 at 21:38
  • Yes. In fact I was searching for more specific terminology to obtain more specific references. Thanks! Aug 26, 2016 at 21:40
  • Ok. Perfect. Good luck with your research. Best regards. M. Arrowsmith Aug 26, 2016 at 21:44

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