Altered hemodynamics and vascular reactivity in a mouse model with severe pericyte deficiency

Pericytes are the mural cells of the microvascular network that are in close contact with underlying endothelial cells. Endothelial-secreted PDGFB leads to recruitment of pericytes to the vessel wall, but this is disrupted in Pdgfbret/ret mice when the PDGFB retention motif is deleted. This results in severely reduced pericyte coverage on blood vessels. In this study, we investigated vascular abnormalities and hemodynamics in Pdgfbret/ret mice throughout the cerebrovascular network and in different cortical layers by in vivo two-photon microscopy. We confirmed that Pdgfbret/ret mice are severely deficient in pericytes throughout the vascular network, with enlarged brain blood vessels and a reduced number of vessel branches. Red blood cell velocity, linear density, and tube hematocrit were reduced in Pdgfbret/ret mice, which may impair oxygen delivery to the tissue. We also measured intravascular PO2 and found that concentrations were higher in cortical Layer 2/3 in Pdgfbret/ret mice, indicative of reduced blood oxygen extraction. Finally, we found that Pdgfbret/ret mice had a reduced capacity for vasodilation in response to an acetazolamide challenge during functional MRI imaging. Taken together, these results suggest that severe pericyte deficiency can lead to vascular abnormalities and altered cerebral blood flow, reminiscent of pathologies such as arteriovenous malformations.


Jillian Stobart
Eva Erlebach
Dr. Chaim Glück
Sheng-Fu Huang
Matthew J. P. Barrett
Max Li
Sergei A Vinogradov
Jan Klohs
Yvette Zarb
Annika Keller
Prof. Dr. Bruno Weber

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