Basal cerebral blood flow is dependent on the nitric oxide pathway in elderly but not in young healthy men

Adriaan M. Kamper, Aart Spilt, Anton J.M. De Craen, Mark A. Van Buchem, Rudi G.J. Westendorp, Gerard J. Blauw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective. Brain perfusion is tightly regulated over a wide range of blood pressures by local regulation of cerebral blood flow (CBF). Ageing is associated with impaired CBF and impaired nitric oxide mediated vasodilator responses. The role of nitric oxide in the regulation of basal CBF in young and older subjects was investigated, using the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor L-NMMA as pharmacological tool. Methods. We used a gradient echo phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging technique to investigate the role of nitric oxide in the regulation of cerebral blood flow in young (25±7.1 years; n=8) and old (78±6.6 years; n=7) volunteers. The study was performed in a double-blinded fashion and consisted of two study days. On one day the effects of the intravenously infused L-NMMA on CBF and blood pressure was measured and on the other day the effects of a matching placebo. Results. Basal CBF was significantly lower in old compared to young subjects (590±20 vs 704±20 ml/min), while the cerebral vascular resistance (CVR) levels were significantly higher (0.15±0.01 (arbitrary units) vs 0.12±0.01, respectively). Infusion of L-NMMA significantly increased mean arterial pressure in both groups (2.8±1.2 mmHg; p=0.02 in the young and in the old subjects 5.6±1.1 mmHg; p<0.001). Infusion of L-NMMA significantly decreased CBF (49±12 ml/min; p<0.001) and increased CVR (0.02±0.004; p<0.001) in the old subjects but did not significantly influence cerebral circulation in the young subjects. Conclusion. We conclude that compared to young subjects, in old people CBF is impaired, and dependent on the intactness of the nitric oxide pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1248
Number of pages4
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Elderly
  • L-NMMA
  • Nitric oxide (5-10)


Dive into the research topics of 'Basal cerebral blood flow is dependent on the nitric oxide pathway in elderly but not in young healthy men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this