Informational dynamics of vasomotion in microvascular networks: a review

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Vasomotion refers to spontaneous oscillation of small vessels observed in many microvascular beds. It is an intrinsic phenomenon unrelated to cardiac rhythm or neural and hormonal regulation. Vasomotion is found to be particularly prominent under conditions of metabolic stress. In spite of a significant existent literature on vasomotion, its physiological and pathophysiological roles are not clear. It is thought that modulation of vasomotion by vasoactive substances released by metabolizing tissue plays a role in ensuring optimal delivery of nutrients to the tissue. Vasomotion rhythms exhibit a great variety of temporal patterns from regular oscillations to chaos. The nature of vasomotion rhythm is believed to be significant to its function, with chaotic vasomotion offering several physiological advantages over regular, periodic vasomotion. In this article, we emphasize that vasomotion is best understood as a network phenomenon. When there is a local metabolic demand in tissue, an ideal vascular response should extend beyond local microvasculature, with coordinated changes over multiple vascular segments. Mechanisms of information transfer over a vessel network have been discussed in the literature. The microvascular system may be regarded as a network of dynamic elements, interacting, either over the vascular anatomical network via gap junctions, or physiologically by exchange of vasoactive substances. Drawing analogies with spatiotemporal patterns in neuronal networks of central nervous system, we ask if properties like synchronization/desynchronization of vasomotors have special significance to microcirculation. Thus the contemporary literature throws up a novel view of microcirculation as a network that exhibits complex, spatiotemporal and informational dynamics.

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