Neurofluids: A holistic approach to their physiology, interactive dynamics and clinical implications for neurological diseases

  • Nivedita Agarwal | Section of Radiology, Hospital Santa Maria del Carmine, Rovereto (TN), Italy; Center for Mind/Brain Sciences CIMeC, University of Trento, Italy.
  • Christian Contarino Computational Life Inc., Delaware, United States.
  • Eleuterio F. Toro Laboratory of Applied Mathematics, University of Trento, Italy.


There is increasing interest in understanding the physiology of the extracellular fluid compartments in the central nervous system and their dynamic interaction. Such interest has been in part prompted by a vigorous resurgence of the role of the venous system, the recent discoveries of the meningeal lymphatics, the brain waste removal mechanisms and their potential link to neurological diseases, such as idiopathic intracranial hypertension, Ménière’s disease, migraine, small vessel disease, and most neurodegenerative diseases. The rigid cranial cavity houses several space-competing material compartments: the brain parenchyma (BP) and four extracellular fluids, namely arterial, venous, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial fluid (ISF). During cardiac pulsations, the harmonious, temporal and spatial dynamic interaction of all these fluid compartments and the BP assures a constant intracranial volume at all times, consistent with the Monro-Kellie hypothesis. The dynamic interaction involves high-pressure input of arterial blood during systole and efflux of CSF into the spinal subarachnoid space (SSAS) followed by venous blood exiting directly into the vertebral and internal jugular veins towards the heart and intraventricular CSF displacing caudally towards the SSAS. Arterial pulsatile energy is transmitted to the BP that contributes to the smooth movement of fluids in and out of the brain. Perturbing any of these fluid compartments will alter the entire brain dynamics, potentially increase intracranial pressure, affect perfusion and hamper clearance capacity of metabolic waste. This review of all major extracellular fluid compartments within the brain, advocates a holistic approach to our understanding of the fluid dynamics, rather than focusing on a single compartment when analyzing neurological diseases. This approach may contribute to advance our comprehension of some common neurological disorders, paving the way to newer treatment options.



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Review Articles
Monro-Kellie, phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging, neurofluids, chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, glymphatic system, meningeal lymphatics, IPAD.
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How to Cite
Agarwal, N., Contarino, C., & Toro, E. F. (2019). Neurofluids: A holistic approach to their physiology, interactive dynamics and clinical implications for neurological diseases. Veins and Lymphatics, 8(3).

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