The reactivity of rabbit basilar artery and penetrating arteriolar microvessels was studied in vitro using an isometric-tension measurement technique and an isolated perfused arteriole preparation, respectively. Comparisons were made between reactivities of normal vessels and those obtained from animals subjected to experimental subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) 3 days prior to examination. Subarachnoid hemorrhage produced significant increases in basilar artery contraction in response to increasing concentrations of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) (10-9 to 10-5 M) and prostaglandin F(2α) (10-9 to 10-5 M) when compared to normal arteries. In addition, SAH attenuated the relaxing effect of acetylcholine following serotonin-induced contraction and of adenosine triphosphate after KCl-induced basilar artery contractions. In contrast to the changes observed in large arteries, cerebral microvessels did not demonstrate significant differences in spontaneous tone or in reactivity to a number of vasoactive stimuli including application of calcium, serotonin, and acetylcholine. On the other hand, small but significant changes in arteriolar responsiveness to changes in extraluminal pH and to application of KCl were noted. Findings from this study suggest that intracerebral resistance vessels of the cerebral microcirculation are not greatly affected by the presence of subarachnoid clot, in contrast to the large arteries in the basal subarachnoid space. The small changes that do occur are qualitatively different from those observed for large arteries. These findings are consistent with the observation of significant therapeutic benefit with the use of calcium channel blockers without changes in angiographically visible vasospasm in large vessels. It is likely, therefore, that calcium antagonists may act to decrease total cerebrovascular resistance at the level of the relatively unaffected microcirculation after SAH without changing large vessel diameter.
- cerebral artery
- subarachnoid hemorrhage