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The effect of local hypercapnic acidosis or local hypocapnic alkalosis on pial arterioles were studied in anesthetized cats equipped with a cranial window for the direct observation of the pial microcirculation of the parietal cortex. Changes in PCO2 and pH of the extracellular fluid were induced by perfusing the space under the cranial window with artificial cerebrospinal fluid equilibrated with different concentrations of CO2, while PaCO2 was maintained constant. Hypercapnic acidosis dilated and hypocapnic alkalosis constricted pial arteioles markedly. The results indicate that a basis exists for considering CO2 as a mediator for local regulation of brain blood flow. The vasodilation associated with arterial hypercapnia was abolished by a reduction in CSF PCO2 equal in magnitude to the rise in arterial blood PCO2, suggesting that the action of CO2 is entirely local.


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