Cerebral circulation is tightly regulated by vasoactive substances. There is a delicate balance among
vasoconstriction and vasodilation factors. During ischemia/stroke, cerebral blood flow autoregulation may be
compromised triggering hyperemia (early phase) or hypoperfusion (late phase or post-ischemia) deranging cerebral blood
flow that can lead to subsequent neuronal cell death due to blood flow abnormalities. Traditional vasoactive mediators
such as nitric oxide and calcitonin gene-related peptide have been well-documented to provide vasodilation and
neuroprotection in the ischemic brain. An emerging field is the identification of fatty acids (polyunsaturated or saturated)
that can lead to vasodilation possibly causing neuroprotection. This review investigates fatty acids such as palmitic acid
methyl ester, α-linolenic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid as novel vasoactive substances that can modulate cerebral blood
flow as well as offer neuroprotection after ischemia.
Keywords: Palmitic acid methyl ester, vasodilation, α-Linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, neuroprotection.
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