Large enhancement of perfusion contribution on fMRI signal.

Department of Radiology, Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism: official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (Impact Factor: 5.46). 03/2012; 32(5):907-18. DOI:10.1038/jcbfm.2012.26
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The perfusion contribution to the total functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signal was investigated using a rat model with mild hypercapnia at 9.4 T, and human subjects with visual stimulation at 4 T. It was found that the total fMRI signal change could be approximated as a linear superposition of 'true' blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD; T(2)/T(2)(*)) effect and the blood flow-related (T(1)) effect. The latter effect was significantly enhanced by using short repetition time and large radiofrequency pulse flip angle and became comparable to the 'true' BOLD signal in response to a mild hypercapnia in the rat brain, resulting in an improved contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR). Bipolar diffusion gradients suppressed the intravascular signals but had no significant effect on the flow-related signal. Similar results of enhanced fMRI signal were observed in the human study. The overall results suggest that the observed flow-related signal enhancement is likely originated from perfusion, and this enhancement can improve CNR and the spatial specificity for mapping brain activity and physiology changes. The nature of mixed BOLD and perfusion-related contributions in the total fMRI signal also has implication on BOLD quantification, in particular, the BOLD calibration model commonly used to estimate the change of cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen.

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    ABSTRACT: The study of brain activation in small animals is of high interest for neurological research. In this study, we proposed a protocol to monitor brain activation in rats following whisker stimulation using the short half-life PET tracer [(15)O]H2O as a marker for cerebral blood flow. This technique enables the study of baseline and activation conditions in fast succession within the same scanning session. Furthermore, we compared the results obtained from PET imaging with additional BOLD-fMRI data acquired in the same animals within the same anesthetic session in immediate succession. Although the maximum relative signal changes during brain activity observed with PET were substantially higher compared to the BOLD-fMRI results, statistical analyses showed that the number of activated voxels in PET was lower compared to the fMRI measurements. Furthermore, there was a difference in the activation centers in both the shape and location between PET and fMRI. The discrepancy in the number of activated voxels could be attributed to a lower overall contrast-to-noise ratio of the PET images compared to BOLD-fMRI, whereas the difference in the spatial location indicates a more fundamental process, involving the different physiological origins of the PET and BOLD-fMRI response. This study clearly demonstrates that [(15)O]H2O-PET activation studies may be performed in small laboratory animals, and shows the complimentary nature of studying brain activation using [(15)O]H2O-PET and fMRI.
    NeuroImage 12/2013; · 6.25 Impact Factor


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