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In Communications biology

Cerebral blood flow (CBF) is widely used to assess brain function. However, most preclinical CBF studies have been performed under anesthesia, which confounds findings. High spatiotemporal-resolution CBF imaging of awake animals is challenging due to motion artifacts and background noise, particularly for Doppler-based flow imaging. Here, we report ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence Doppler tomography (µODT) for 3D imaging of CBF velocity (CBFv) dynamics in awake mice by developing self-supervised deep-learning for effective image denoising and motion-artifact removal. We compare cortical CBFv in awake vs. anesthetized mice and their dynamic responses in arteriolar, venular and capillary networks to acute cocaine (1 mg/kg, i.v.), a highly addictive drug associated with neurovascular toxicity. Compared with awake, isoflurane (2-2.5%) induces vasodilation and increases CBFv within 2-4 min, whereas dexmedetomidine (0.025 mg/kg, i.p.) does not change vessel diameters nor flow. Acute cocaine decreases CBFv to the same extent in dexmedetomidine and awake states, whereas decreases are larger under isoflurane, suggesting that isoflurane-induced vasodilation might have facilitated detection of cocaine-induced vasoconstriction. Awake mice after chronic cocaine show severe vasoconstriction, CBFv decreases and vascular adaptations with extended diving arteriolar/venular vessels that prioritize blood supply to deeper cortical capillaries. The 3D imaging platform we present provides a powerful tool to study dynamic changes in vessel diameters and morphology alongside CBFv networks in the brain of awake animals that can advance our understanding of the effects of drugs and disease conditions (ischemia, tumors, wound healing).

Pan Yingtian, Park Kicheon, Ren Jiaxiang, Volkow Nora D, Ling Haibin, Koretsky Alan P, Du Congwu