A Window of Vascular Plasticity Coupled to Behavioral Recovery after Stroke


Stroke causes remodeling of vasculature surrounding the infarct, but whether and how vascular remodeling contributes to recovery are unclear. We established an approach to monitor and compare changes in vascular structure and blood flow with high spatiotemporal precision after photothrombotic infarcts in motor cortex using longitudinal 2-photon and multiexposure speckle imaging in mice of both sexes. A spatially graded pattern of vascular structural remodeling in peri-infarct cortex unfolded over the first 2 weeks after stroke, characterized by vessel loss and formation, and selective stabilization of a subset of new vessels. This vascular structural plasticity was coincident with transient activation of transcriptional programs relevant for vascular remodeling, reestablishment of peri-infarct blood flow, and large improvements in motor performance. Local vascular plasticity was strongly predictive of restoration of blood flow, which was in turn predictive of behavioral recovery. These findings reveal the spatiotemporal evolution of vascular remodeling after stroke and demonstrate that a window of heightened vascular plasticity is coupled to the reestablishment of blood flow and behavioral recovery. Our findings support that neovascularization contributes to behavioral recovery after stroke by restoring blood flow to peri-infarct regions. These findings may inform strategies for enhancing recovery from stroke and other types of brain injury.

Journal article
Journal of Neuroscience