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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the vessels that supply the CNS with blood
  • Name the components of the ventricular system and the regions of the brain in which each is located
  • Explain the production of cerebrospinal fluid and its flow through the ventricles
  • Explain how a disruption in circulation would result in a stroke

The CNS is crucial to the operation of the body, and any compromise in the brain and spinal cord can lead to severe difficulties. The CNS has a privileged blood supply, as suggested by the blood-brain barrier. The function of the tissue in the CNS is crucial to the survival of the organism, so the contents of the blood cannot simply pass into the central nervous tissue. To protect this region from the toxins and pathogens that may be traveling through the blood stream, there is strict control over what can move out of the general systems and into the brain and spinal cord. Because of this privilege, the CNS needs specialized structures for the maintenance of circulation. This begins with a unique arrangement of blood vessels carrying fresh blood into the CNS. Beyond the supply of blood, the CNS filters that blood into cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is then circulated through the cavities of the brain and spinal cord called ventricles.

Blood supply to the brain

A lack of oxygen to the CNS can be devastating, and the cardiovascular system has specific regulatory reflexes to ensure that the blood supply is not interrupted. There are multiple routes for blood to get into the CNS, with specializations to protect that blood supply and to maximize the ability of the brain to get an uninterrupted perfusion.

Arterial supply

The major artery carrying recently oxygenated blood away from the heart is the aorta. The very first branches off the aorta supply the heart with nutrients and oxygen. The next branches give rise to the common carotid arteries , which further branch into the internal carotid arteries . The external carotid arteries supply blood to the tissues on the surface of the cranium. The bases of the common carotids contain stretch receptors that immediately respond to the drop in blood pressure upon standing. The orthostatic reflex    is a reaction to this change in body position, so that blood pressure is maintained against the increasing effect of gravity (orthostatic means “standing up”). Heart rate increases—a reflex of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system—and this raises blood pressure.

The internal carotid artery enters the cranium through the carotid canal    in the temporal bone. A second set of vessels that supply the CNS are the vertebral arteries    , which are protected as they pass through the neck region by the transverse foramina of the cervical vertebrae. The vertebral arteries enter the cranium through the foramen magnum    of the occipital bone. Branches off the left and right vertebral arteries merge into the anterior spinal artery    supplying the anterior aspect of the spinal cord, found along the anterior median fissure. The two vertebral arteries then merge into the basilar artery    , which gives rise to branches to the brain stem and cerebellum. The left and right internal carotid arteries and branches of the basilar artery all become the circle of Willis    , a confluence of arteries that can maintain perfusion of the brain even if narrowing or a blockage limits flow through one part ( [link] ).

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Amphipathic molecules are molecules with both polar and non polar regions
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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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