Microvascular Changes that Stagger the Mind


Hypertension is a leading cause of cognitive impairment and dementias. Such loss of brain health has a vascular component, but the mechanisms involved are poorly defined. In this issue of the JCI, Koide et al. provide evidence that end-organ effects of hypertension on capillary endothelium and inward-rectifier K+ channels (Kir2.1) impair integrated propagation of electrical signals and vasodilation upstream, resulting in reduced neurovascular coupling (NVC) despite neural activation. NVC was partly restored by amlodipine, but not losartan. Moreover, NVC was improved by eplerenone in the presence of losartan, suggesting a role for aldosterone. These findings support the concept that endothelial cells and Kir2.1 are potential therapeutic targets to prevent or reverse the loss of NVC and the vascular component of cognitive deficits that occur with increased frequency during hypertension.

Authors: Frank M Faraci
Keywords: cognitive impairment, dementia
DOI Number: 10.1172/JCI153202      Publication Year: 2021

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