Information on water-transport across the blood–brain barrier can be determined from the T2 of the arterial spin labeling (ASL) signal. However, the current approach of using separate acquisitions of multiple inversion times is too time-consuming for clinical (research) applications. The aim of this study was to improve the time-efficiency of this method by combining it with time-encoded pseudo-continuous ASL (te-pCASL). Furthermore, the hemodynamic properties of the border zone regions in the brains of healthy, young volunteers were characterized as an example application.
The use of te-pCASL instead of multi-TI pCASL significantly reduced the total scan duration, while providing a higher temporal resolution. A significantly lower cerebral blood flow (CBF) was found in the border zone regions compared with the central regions in both the posterior and the middle cerebral artery (MCA) flow territory. The arterial transit time (ATT) was almost two times longer in the border zone regions than in the central regions (p < 0.05), with an average delay in ATT of 382 ms in the posterior and 539 ms in the MCA flow territory. When corrected for the ATT, the change in T2 over time was not significantly different for the border zones as compared to the central regions.
In conclusion, te-pCASL-TRUST provided a time-efficient method to distinguish spin compartments based on their T2. The ATT in the border zone is significantly longer than in the central region. However, the exchange of the label from the arterial to the tissue compartment appears to be at a similar rate.