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Vascularization of cytochrome oxidase-rich blobs in the primary visual cortex of squirrel and macaque monkeys

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Keller A. L., Schuz A., Logothetis N. K., Weber B.,
Project A multimodal approach to cerebral blood flow and metabolism
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal The Journal of Neuroscience
Volume (Issue) 31
Page(s) 1246 - 53
Title of proceedings The Journal of Neuroscience


The close correlation between energy supply by blood vessels and energy consumption by cellular processes in the brain is the basis of blood flow-related functional imaging techniques. Regional differences in vascular density can be detected using high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging. Therefore, inhomogeneities in vascularization might help to identify anatomically distinct areas noninvasively in vivo. It was reported previously that cytochrome oxidase-rich blobs in the striate cortex of squirrel monkeys are characterized by a notably higher vascular density (42% higher than interblob regions). However, blobs have so far never been identified in vivo on the basis of their vascular density. Here, we analyzed blobs of the primary visual cortex of squirrel monkeys and macaques with respect to the relationship between vascularization and cytochrome oxidase activity. By double staining with cytochrome oxidase enzyme histochemistry to define the blobs and collagen type IV immunohistochemistry to quantify the blood vessels, a close correlation between oxidative metabolism and vascularization was confirmed and quantified in detail. The vascular length density in cytochrome oxidase blobs was on average 4.5% higher than in the interblob regions, a difference almost one order of magnitude smaller than previously reported. Thus, the vascular density that is closely associated with local average metabolic activity is a structural equivalent of cerebral metabolism and blood flow. However, the quantitative differences in vascularization between blob and interblob regions are small and below the detectability threshold of the noninvasive hemodynamic imaging methods of today.