Searching for a truly "iso-metabolic" gas challenge in physiological MRI

Shin Lei Peng, Harshan Ravi, Min Sheng, Binu P. Thomas, Hanzhang Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Hypercapnia challenge (e.g. inhalation of CO 2) has been used in calibrated fMRI as well as in the mapping of vascular reactivity in cerebrovascular diseases. An important assumption underlying these measurements is that CO 2 is a pure vascular challenge but does not alter neural activity. However, recent reports have suggested that CO 2 inhalation may suppress neural activity and brain metabolic rate. Therefore, the goal of this study is to propose and test a gas challenge that is truly "iso-metabolic," by adding a hypoxic component to the hypercapnic challenge, since hypoxia has been shown to enhance cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO 2). Measurement of global CMRO 2 under various gas challenge conditions revealed that, while hypercapnia (P = 0.002) and hypoxia (P = 0.002) individually altered CMRO 2 (by -7.6 ± 1.7% and 16.7 ± 4.1%, respectively), inhalation of hypercapnic-hypoxia gas (5% CO 2 /13% O 2) did not change brain metabolism (CMRO 2 change: 1.5 ± 3.9%, P = 0.92). Moreover, cerebral blood flow response to the hypercapnic-hypoxia challenge (in terms of % change per mmHg CO 2 change) was even greater than that to hypercapnia alone (P = 0.007). Findings in this study suggest that hypercapnic-hypoxia gas challenge may be a useful maneuver in physiological MRI as it preserves vasodilatory response yet does not alter brain metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-725
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Carbon dioxide
  • cerebral blood flow
  • cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen
  • hypercapnia
  • hypoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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