Impact des dysfonctions vasculaires sur les fonctions neurologiques et le vieillissement cérébral


Hélène Girouard

CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal


Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme Chercheurs-boursiers - Senior

Concours 2019-2020

The brain depends on a constant supply of oxygen and substrate to supply the active neurons. This organ is therefore extremely dependent on a constant blood flow which is finely regulated by mechanisms that ensure adequate blood distribution according to the active regions. This phenomenon is called neurovascular coupling (NVC). When the NVC is defective, the brain environment is disrupted and the brain becomes more vulnerable to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. THE OBJECTIVE of our studies is to understand the mechanisms that regulate cerebral blood flow in order to develop therapeutic tools to protect the brain.

Our studies are divided into two main themes:

  • The first one is the study of the impact of vascular dysfunction, especially arterial hypertension (high blood pressure), on brain's health. Hypertension is a significant risk factor for memory and learning deficits as well as stroke. These consequences can affect the autonomy of seniors. This theme is divided into four parts: 1) inflammatory mechanisms that may affect the control of cerebral blood flow in an animal model of hypertension; 2) the role of vascular dysfunctions in the development of Alzheimer's disease; 3) sexual differences and effects of menopause on the brain's sensitivity to arterial stiffness; 4) the application of the models proposed in the laboratory to bioimaging in hypertensive humans.
  • The second theme is the study of the mechanisms underlying NVC. For NVC to be optimal, cells that form the neurovascular unit (glia, vascular cells and neurons) must communicate properly. We try to elucidate the communication signaling between these cells.

This work will enable us to develop strategies to protect the brain and improve the quality of life of people with vascular dysfunction and older people who are more vulnerable to these conditions.