Hypoxia alters posterior cingulate cortex metabolism during a memory task: A 1H fMRS study

Matthew Rogan, Alexander T. Friend, Gabriella MK Rossetti, Richard Edden, Mark Mikkelsen, Samuel J. Oliver, Jamie H. Macdonald, Paul G. Mullins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environmental hypoxia (fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2) ∼ 0.120) is known to trigger a global increase in cerebral blood flow (CBF). However, regionally, a heterogeneous response is reported, particularly within the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) where decreased CBF is found after two hours of hypoxic exposure. Furthermore, hypoxia reverses task-evoked BOLD signals within the PCC, and other regions of the default mode network, suggesting a reversal of neurovascular coupling. An alternative explanation is that the neural architecture supporting cognitive tasks is reorganised. Therefore, to confirm if this previous result is neural or vascular in origin, a measure of neural activity that is not haemodynamic-dependant is required. To achieve this, we utilised functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy to probe the glutamate response to memory recall in the PCC during normoxia (FIO2 = 0.209) and after two hours of poikilocapnic hypoxia (FIO2 = 0.120). We also acquired ASL-based measures of CBF to confirm previous findings of reduced CBF within the PCC in hypoxia. Consistent with previous findings, hypoxia induced a reduction in CBF within the PCC and other regions of the default mode network. Under normoxic conditions, memory recall was associated with an 8% increase in PCC glutamate compared to rest (P = 0.019); a change which was not observed during hypoxia. However, exploratory analysis of other neurometabolites showed that PCC glucose was reduced during hypoxia compared to normoxia both at rest (P = 0.039) and during the task (P = 0.046). We conclude that hypoxia alters the activity-induced increase in glutamate, which may reflect a reduction in oxidative metabolism within the PCC. The reduction in glucose in hypoxia reflects continued metabolism, presumably by non-oxidative means, without replacement of glucose due to reduced CBF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119397
StatePublished - Oct 15 2022


  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Hypoxia
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Posterior cingulate cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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