Physiologic underpinnings of negative BOLD cerebrovascular reactivity in brain ventricles

Binu P. Thomas, Peiying Liu, Sina Aslan, Kevin S. King, Matthias J.P. van Osch, Hanzhang Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


With a growing need for specific biomarkers in vascular diseases, there has been a surging interest in mapping cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) of the brain. This index can be measured by conducting a hypercapnia challenge while acquiring blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signals. A BOLD signal increase with hypercapnia is the expected outcome and represents the majority of literature reports; in this work we report an intriguing observation of an apparently negative BOLD CVR response at 3T, during inhalation of 5% CO2 with balance medical air. These "negative-CVR" clusters were specifically located in the ventricular regions of the brain, where CSF is abundant and results in an intense baseline signal. The amplitude of the CVR response was -0.51±0.44% (N=14, age 26±4years). We hypothesized that this observation might not be due to a decrease in oxygenation but rather a volume effect in which bright CSF signal is replaced by a less intensive blood signal as a result of vasodilation. To test this, we performed an inversion-recovery (IR) experiment to suppress the CSF signal (N=10, age 27±5years). This maneuver in imaging sequence reversed the sign of the signal response (to 0.66±0.25%), suggesting that the volume change was the predominant reason for the apparently negative CVR in the BOLD experiment. Further support of this hypothesis was provided by a BOLD hyperoxia experiment, in which no voxels showed a negative response, presumably because vasodilation is not usually associated with this challenge. Absolute CBF response to hypercapnia was measured in a new group of subjects (N=8, age 29±7years) and it was found that CBF in ventricular regions increased by 48% upon CO2 inhalation, suggesting that blood oxygenation most likely increased rather than decreased. The findings from this study suggest that CO2 inhalation results in the dilation of ventricular vessels accompanied by shrinkage in CSF space, which is responsible for the apparently negative CVR in brain ventricles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-512
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • CBF
  • CO
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cerebrovascular reactivity
  • Hypercapnia
  • Hyperoxia
  • Inversion recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Physiologic underpinnings of negative BOLD cerebrovascular reactivity in brain ventricles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this