Cortical microinfarcts are caused by blood flow disturbances and are linked to pathologies like cerebral amyloid angiopathy and dementia. Despite their relevance for disease progression, microinfarcts often remain undetected and the smallest scale of disturbance has not yet been identified. We employ blood flow simulations in realistic microvascular networks from the mouse cortex to quantify the impact of single capillary occlusions. We reveal that the severity of a microstroke is strongly affected by the local vascular topology and the baseline flow rate in the occluded capillary. The largest changes in flow rate are observed in capillaries with two in- and two outflows. Interestingly, this specific topological configuration only occurs with a frequency of 8%, while the majority of capillaries are likely designed to efficiently supply oxygen and nutrients. Taken together, microstrokes likely induce a cascade of local disturbances in the surrounding tissue, which might accumulate and impair energy supply locally.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience