Regional Cerebral Plasma Volume Response to Carbon Dioxide Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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Noninvasive techniques used to determine the changes in cerebral blood volume in response to carbon dioxide are hampered by their limited spatial or temporal resolution or both. Using steady state contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, the authors determined regional changes in cerebral plasma volume (CPV) induced by hypercapnia in halothane-anesthetized rats.


Cerebral plasma volume was determined during normocapnia, hypercapnia and recovery in the dorsoparietal neocortex and striatum of each hemisphere, in cerebellum, and in extracerebral tissue of rats with either intact carotid arteries (group 1) or unilateral common carotid ligation (group 2). Another group was studied without injection of a contrast agent (group 3).


Hypercapnia (partial pressure of carbon dioxide in arterial blood [PaCO2] [nearly =] 65 mmHg) resulted in a significant increase in CPV in the striatum (+42 +/- 8%), neocortex (+34 +/- 6%), and cerebellum (+49 +/- 12%) compared with normocapnic CPV values (group 1). Carotid ligation (group 2) led to a marked reduction of the CPV response to hypercapnia in the ipsilateral striatum (+23 +/- 14%) and neocortex (+27 +/- 17%) compared with the unclamped side (+34 +/- 15% and +38 +/- 16%, respectively). No significant changes in CPV were found in extracerebral tissue. In both groups, the CPV changes were reversed by the carbon dioxide washout period. Negligible changes in contrast imaging were detected during hypercapnia without administration of the contrast agent (group 3).


The contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging technique is sensitive to detect noninvasively regional CPV changes induced by hypercapnia in rat brain. This could be of clinical interest for determining the cerebrovascular reactivity among different brain regions.

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