Magnetic Resonance Imaging Measurement of Transmission of Arterial Pulsation to the Brain on Propranolol Versus Amlodipine

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Background and Purpose—

Cerebral arterial pulsatility is associated with leukoaraiosis and depends on central arterial pulsatility and arterial stiffness. The effect of antihypertensive drugs on transmission of central arterial pulsatility to the cerebral circulation is unknown, partly because of limited methods of assessment.


In a technique-development pilot study, 10 healthy volunteers were randomized to crossover treatment with amlodipine and propranolol. At baseline and on each drug, we assessed aortic (Sphygmocor) and middle cerebral artery pulsatility (TCDtranscranial ultrasound). We also performed whole-brain, 3-tesla multiband blood-oxygen level dependent magnetic resonance imaging (multiband factor 6, repetition time=0.43s), concurrent with a novel method of continuous noninvasive blood pressure monitoring. Drug effects on relationships between cardiac cycle variation in blood pressure and blood-oxygen level dependent imaging were determined (fMRI Expert Analysis Tool, fMRIB Software Library [FEAT-FSL]).


Aortic pulsatility was similar on amlodipine (27.3 mm Hg) and propranolol (27.9 mm Hg, P diff=0.33), while MCA pulsatility increased nonsignificantly more from baseline on propranolol (+6%; P=0.09) than amlodipine (+1.5%; P=0.58). On magnetic resonance imaging, cardiac frequency blood pressure variations were found to be significantly more strongly associated with blood-oxygen level dependent imaging on propranolol than amlodipine.


We piloted a novel method of assessment of arterial pulsatility with concurrent high-frequency blood-oxygen level dependent magnetic resonance imaging and noninvasive blood pressure monitoring. This method was able to identify greater transmission of aortic pulsation on propranolol than amlodipine, which warrants further investigation.

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