Blood oxygen level-dependent MRI of tissue oxygenation. Relation to endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent blood flow changes


  • W. Utz
  • J. Jordan
  • T. Niendorf
  • M. Stoffels
  • F.C. Luft
  • R. Dietz
  • M.G. Friedrich


  • Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology


  • Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 25 (7): 1408-1413


  • OBJECTIVES: The contribution of endothelial function to tissue oxygenation is not well understood. Muscle blood oxygen level-dependent MRI (BOLD MRI) provides data largely dependent on hemoglobin (Hb) oxygenation. We used BOLD MRI to assess endothelium-dependent signal intensity (SI) changes. METHODS AND RESULTS: We investigated mean BOLD SI changes in the forearm musculature using a gradient-echo technique at 1.5 T in 9 healthy subjects who underwent a protocol of repeated acetylcholine infusions at 2 different doses (16 and 64 microg/min) and N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA; 5 mg/min) into the brachial artery. Sodium nitroprusside was used as a control substance. For additional correlation with standard methods, the same protocol was repeated, and forearm blood flow was measured by strain gauge plethysmography. We obtained a significant increase in BOLD SI during acetylcholine infusion (64 microg/min) and a significant decrease for L-NMMA infusion (P<0.005 for both). BOLD SI showed a different kinetic signal than did blood flow, particularly after intermittent ischemia and at high flow rates. CONCLUSIONS: In standard endothelial function tests, BOLD MRI detects a dissociation of tissue Hb oxygenation from blood flow. BOLD MRI may be a useful adjunct in assessing endothelial function.