Vasodilation by in vivo activation of astrocyte endfeet via two-photon calcium uncaging as a strategy to prevent brain ischemia
Decreased cerebral blood flow causes brain ischemia and plays an important role in the pathophysiology of many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. In this study, we photomodulated astrocytes in the live animal by a combination of two-photon calcium uncaging in the astrocyte endfoot and in vivo imaging of neurovasculature and astrocytes by intravital two-photon microscopy after labeling with cell type specific fluorescent dyes. Our study demonstrates that photomodulation at the endfoot of a single astrocyte led to a 25% increase in the diameter of a neighboring arteriole, which is a crucial factor regulating cerebral microcirculation in downstream capillaries. Two-photon uncaging in the astrocyte soma or endfoot near veins does not show the same effect on microcirculation. These experimental results suggest that infrared photomodulation on astrocyte endfeet may be a strategy to increase cerebral local microcirculation and thus prevent brain ischemia.