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Comparison of non-invasive MRI measurements of cerebral blood flow in a large multisite cohort.



Arterial spin labeling and phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging provide independent non-invasive methods for measuring cerebral blood flow. We compared global cerebral blood flow measurements obtained using pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling and phase contrast in 436 middle-aged subjects acquired at two sites in the NHLBI CARDIA multisite study. Cerebral blood flow measured by phase contrast (CBFPC: 55.76 ± 12.05 ml/100 g/min) was systematically higher (p < 0.001) and more variable than cerebral blood flow measured by pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (CBFPCASL: 47.70 ± 9.75). The correlation between global cerebral blood flow values obtained from the two modalities was 0.59 (p < 0.001), explaining less than half of the observed variance in cerebral blood flow estimates. Well-established correlations of global cerebral blood flow with age and sex were similarly observed in both CBFPCASL and CBFPC CBFPC also demonstrated statistically significant site differences, whereas no such differences were observed in CBFPCASL No consistent velocity-dependent effects on pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling were observed, suggesting that pseudo-continuous labeling efficiency does not vary substantially across typical adult carotid and vertebral velocities, as has previously been suggested.


Although CBFPCASL and CBFPC values show substantial similarity across the entire cohort, these data do not support calibration of CBFPCASL using CBFPC in individual subjects. The wide-ranging cerebral blood flow values obtained by both methods suggest that cerebral blood flow values are highly variable in the general population.

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