Researchers from Friedrich Schiller University (Jena, Germany) and Heinrich-Heine-University (Düsseldorf, Germany) teamed up to test whether a heart failure medication that is currently being tested might also improve blood flow in the brain. Their findings were published last month in the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology.
According to the study authors, the small blood vessels in the brains of sheep closely resemble those in the human brain. Using imaging techniques, they were able to track blood flow in the brain before and after administration of the vasodilator Serelaxin. Their results showed an impressive 150% increase in blood flow to the cortical brain areas within 15 minutes of administering the drug. The cortex of the brain is the outer gray layer important in our perceptions (vision, taste, hearing, sensations, understanding language, etc – see image below). Additional studies would be needed to determine whether the drug can restore blood flow following a stroke as well as whether the drug is effective at improving cortical blood flow in humans.
Image of cortical regions of the brain by BruceBlaus. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. – Own work, CC BY 3.0.
Bischoff S, Schmidt M, Lehmann T, Irintchev A, Schubert H, Jung C, Schwab M, Huber O, Matziolis G, Schiffner R. Increase of cortical cerebral blood flow and further cerebral microcirculatory effects of Serelaxin in a sheep model. American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology. [Epub ahead of print] 2016 Jul 8. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00118.2016.