• Vascular and haemodynamic issues of brain ageing

      Beishon, Lucy; Kadicheeni, Meeriam; Minhas, Jatinder; Robinson, Thompson; Haunton, Victoria; Chithiramohan, Tamara (2021-05)
      The population is ageing worldwide, thus increasing the burden of common age-related disorders to the individual, society and economy. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke, dementia) contribute a significant proportion of this burden and are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Thus, understanding and promoting healthy vascular brain ageing are becoming an increasing priority for healthcare systems. In this review, we consider the effects of normal ageing on two major physiological processes responsible for vascular brain function: Cerebral autoregulation (CA) and neurovascular coupling (NVC). CA is the process by which the brain regulates cerebral blood flow (CBF) and protects against falls and surges in cerebral perfusion pressure, which risk hypoxic brain injury and pressure damage, respectively. In contrast, NVC is the process by which CBF is matched to cerebral metabolic activity, ensuring adequate local oxygenation and nutrient delivery for increased neuronal activity. Healthy ageing is associated with a number of key physiological adaptations in these processes to mitigate age-related functional and structural declines. Through multiple different paradigms assessing CA in healthy younger and older humans, generating conflicting findings, carbon dioxide studies in CA have provided the greatest understanding of intrinsic vascular anatomical factors that may mediate healthy ageing responses. In NVC, studies have found mixed results, with reduced, equivalent and increased activation of vascular responses to cognitive stimulation. In summary, vascular and haemodynamic changes occur in response to ageing and are important in distinguishing "normal" ageing from disease states and may help to develop effective therapeutic strategies to promote healthy brain ageing.