Effects of Low-Level Blast on Neurovascular Health and Cerebral Blood Flow: Current Findings and Future Opportunities in Neuroimaging

Madison O. Kilgore, W. Brad Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Low-level blast (LLB) exposure can lead to alterations in neurological health, cerebral vasculature, and cerebral blood flow (CBF). The development of cognitive issues and behavioral abnormalities after LLB, or subconcussive blast exposure, is insidious due to the lack of acute symptoms. One major hallmark of LLB exposure is the initiation of neurovascular damage followed by the development of neurovascular dysfunction. Preclinical studies of LLB exposure demonstrate impairment to cerebral vasculature and the blood–brain barrier (BBB) at both early and long-term stages following LLB. Neuroimaging techniques, such as arterial spin labeling (ASL) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have been utilized in clinical investigations to understand brain perfusion and CBF changes in response to cumulative LLB exposure. In this review, we summarize neuroimaging techniques that can further our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of blast-related neurotrauma, specifically after LLB. Neuroimaging related to cerebrovascular function can contribute to improved diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for LLB. As these same imaging modalities can capture the effects of LLB exposure in animal models, neuroimaging can serve as a gap-bridging diagnostic tool that permits a more extensive exploration of potential relationships between blast-induced changes in CBF and neurovascular health. Future research directions are suggested, including investigating chronic LLB effects on cerebral perfusion, exploring mechanisms of dysautoregulation after LLB, and measuring cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) in preclinical LLB models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number642
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • autoregulation
  • blast overpressure
  • blood–brain barrier
  • neurovascular unit
  • traumatic brain injury
  • vasospasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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