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Longitudinal dynamics of microvascular recovery after acquired cortical injury.


Acquired brain injuries due to trauma damage the cortical vasculature, which in turn impairs blood flow to injured tissues. There are reports of vascular morphological recovery following traumatic brain injury, but the remodeling process has not been examined longitudinally in detail after injury in vivo. Understanding the dynamic processes that influence recovery is thus critically important. We evaluated the longitudinal and dynamic microvascular recovery and remodeling up to 2 months post injury using live brain miniscope and 2-photon microscopic imaging. The new imaging approaches captured dynamic morphological and functional recovery processes at high spatial and temporal resolution in vivo. Vessel painting documented the initial loss and subsequent temporal morphological vascular recovery at the injury site. Miniscopes were used to longitudinally image the temporal dynamics of vascular repair in vivo after brain injury in individual mice across each cohort. We observe near-immediate nascent growth of new vessels in and adjacent to the injury site that peaks between 14 and 21 days post injury. 2-photon microscopy confirms new vascular growth and further demonstrates differences between cortical layers after cortical injury: large vessels persist in deeper cortical layers (> 200 μm), while superficial layers exhibit a dense plexus of fine (and often non-perfused) vessels displaying regrowth. Functionally, blood flow increases mirror increasing vascular density. Filopodia development and endothelial sprouting is measurable within 3 days post injury that rapidly transforms regions devoid of vessels to dense vascular plexus in which new vessels become increasingly perfused. Within 7 days post injury, blood flow is observed in these nascent vessels. Behavioral analysis reveals improved vascular modulation after 9 days post injury, consistent with vascular regrowth. We conclude that morphological recovery events are closely linked to functional recovery of blood flow to the compromised tissues, which subsequently leads to improved behavioral outcomes.

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