Background: Anesthetized animal models are used extensively during neurophysiological and behavioral studies despite systemic effects from anesthesia that undermine both accurate interpretation and translation to awake human physiology. The majority of work examining the impact of anesthesia on cerebral blood flow (CBF) has been restricted to before and after measurements with limited spatial resolution.
New method: We used multi-exposure speckle imaging (MESI), an advanced form of laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI), to characterize the dynamics of isoflurane anesthesia induction on cerebral vasculature and blood flow in the mouse brain.
Results: The large anatomical changes caused by isoflurane are depicted with wide-field imagery and video highlighting the induction of general anesthesia. Within minutes of exposure, both vessel diameter and blood flow increased drastically compared to the awake state and remained elevated for the duration of imaging. An examination of the dynamics of anesthesia induction reveals that blood flow increased faster in arteries than in veins or parenchyma regions.
Comparison with existing methods: MESI offers robust hemodynamic measurements across large fields-of-view and high temporal resolutions sufficient for continuous visualization of cerebrovascular events featuring major changes in blood flow.
Conclusion: The large alterations caused by isoflurane anesthesia to the cortical vasculature and CBF are readily characterized using MESI. These changes are unrepresentative of normal physiology and provide further evidence that neuroscience experiments would benefit from transitioning to un-anesthetized awake animal models.