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Perfusion pressure determines vascular integrity and histomorphological quality following perfusion fixation of the brain.

J Neurosci Methods. 2022 Feb 10;372:109493. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2022.109493. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35151669.

Authors/Editors: Schwarzmaier SM, Knarr MRO, Hu S, Ertürk A, Hellal F, Plesnila N.
Publication Date: 2022



Histology on fixed brain tissue is a key technique to investigate the pathophysiology of neurological disorders. Best results are obtained by perfusion fixation, however, multiple protocols are available and so far the optimal perfusion pressure (PP) for the preservation of brain tissue while also maintaining vascular integrity is not defined. Therefore, the aim of our study was to investigate the effect of different PPs on the cerebral vasculature and to define the PP optimal for the preservation of both vascular integrity and tissue fixation.

Material and methods

Male C57Bl6 mice, 8 weeks old, were perfused with PPs of 50/125/300 mmHg (series I) or 50/100/150/300 mmHg (series II). In series I, vascular integrity, e.g. BBB permeability, vessel diameter, and occurrence of vasospasms were investigated by spectrophotometry, light-sheet and 2-photon microscopy, respectively. In series II, we investigated vascular and neuronal artifacts and the occurrence of hemorrhage or microthrombi by light microscopy.


While a PP below the physiological systolic blood pressure results in the collapse of parenchymal vessels and formation of microvasospasms and microclots, a PP above the physiological systolic blood pressure dilates cerebral vessels, induces microvasospasms and disrupts the BBB. In terms of tissue integrity, our results confirm that higher PPs lead to fewer artifacts such as dark neurons or perivascular courts.


Our study demonstrates that the PP critically affects both vascular and tissue integrity in brain tissue preserved by perfusion fixation. A PP between 125 and 150 mmHg is optimal for the preservation of the cerebral vasculature and neuronal structures.


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