Impaired neurovascular coupling to ictal epileptic activity and spreading depolarization in a patient with subarachnoid hemorrhage: Possible link to blood-brain barrier dysfunction Academic Article uri icon


  • Spreading depolarization describes a sustained neuronal and astroglial depolarization with abrupt ion translocation between intraneuronal and extracellular space leading to a cytotoxic edema and silencing of spontaneous activity. Spreading depolarizations occur abundantly in acutely injured human brain and are assumed to facilitate neuronal death through toxic effects, increased metabolic demand, and inverse neurovascular coupling. Inverse coupling describes severe hypoperfusion in response to spreading depolarization. Ictal epileptic events are less frequent than spreading depolarizations in acutely injured human brain but may also contribute to lesion progression through increased metabolic demand. Whether abnormal neurovascular coupling can occur with ictal epileptic events is unknown. Herein we describe a patient with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in whom spreading depolarizations and ictal epileptic events were measured using subdural opto-electrodes for direct current electrocorticography and regional cerebral blood flow recordings with laser-Doppler flowmetry. Simultaneously, changes in tissue partial pressure of oxygen were recorded with an intraparenchymal oxygen sensor. Isolated spreading depolarizations and clusters of recurrent spreading depolarizations with persistent depression of spontaneous activity were recorded over several days followed by a status epilepticus. Both spreading depolarizations and ictal epileptic events where accompanied by hyperemic blood flow responses at one optode but mildly hypoemic blood flow responses at another. Of note, quantitative analysis of Gadolinium-diethylene-triamine-pentaacetic acid (DTPA)–enhanced magnetic resonance imaging detected impaired blood–brain barrier integrity in the region where the optode had recorded the mildly hypoemic flow responses. The data suggest that abnormal flow responses to spreading depolarizations and ictal epileptic events, respectively, may be associated with blood–brain barrier dysfunction.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012