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

Sudipto Dolui, Ze Wang, Danny J J Wang, Raghav Mattay, Mack Finkel, Mark Elliott, Lisa Desiderio, Ben Inglis, Bryon Mueller, Randall B. Stafford, Lenore J. Launer, David R. Jacobs, R. Nick Bryan, John A. Detre

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50 Scopus citations


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 (CBF PC: 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 (CBF PCASL: 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 CBF PCASL and CBF PC. CBF PC also demonstrated statistically significant site differences, whereas no such differences were observed in CBF PCASL. 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. Conclusions: Although CBF PCASL and CBF PC values show substantial similarity across the entire cohort, these data do not support calibration of CBF PCASL using CBF PC 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1244-1256
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) is supported by contracts HHSN268201300025C, HHSN268201300026C, HHSN268 201300027C, HHSN268201300028C, HHSN268201300029C, and HHSN268200900041C from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging. This study was further supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, namely EB015893, MH080729. .

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016.


  • Cerebral blood flow
  • labeling efficiency
  • phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging
  • pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling
  • semi-automated vessel segmentation


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