Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 241–258 | Cite as

Microvascular Dysfunction and Cognitive Impairment

Review Paper


The impact of vascular risk factors on cognitive function has garnered much interest in recent years. The appropriate distribution of oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients by the cerebral vasculature is critical for proper cognitive performance. The cerebral microvasculature is a key site of vascular resistance and a preferential target for small vessel disease. While deleterious effects of vascular risk factors on microvascular function are known, the contribution of this dysfunction to cognitive deficits is less clear. In this review, we summarize current evidence for microvascular dysfunction in brain. We highlight effects of select vascular risk factors (hypertension, diabetes, and hyperhomocysteinemia) on the pial and parenchymal circulation. Lastly, we discuss potential links between microvascular disease and cognitive function, highlighting current gaps in our understanding.


Endothelium Cerebral circulation Microcirculation Vascular remodeling Hypertension Diabetes 



Work summarized in this review was supported by research grants from the National Institute of Health (HL-62984 and HL-113863), the Department of Veteran’s Affair’s (BX001399), the Fondation Leducq (Transatlantic Network of Excellence), and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (1053786).


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, Francois M. Abboud Cardiovascular Center, Carver College of MedicineUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Iowa City Veterans Affairs Healthcare SystemIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of PharmacologyMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Internal Medicine, 340F EMRB, Carver College of MedicineUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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