Regional differences in cerebral vascular response to PaCO2 changes in humans measured by positron emission tomography

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2000 Aug;20(8):1264-70. doi: 10.1097/00004647-200008000-00011.


Hypercapnia and hypocapnia produce cerebral vasodilation and vasoconstriction, respectively. However, regional differences in the vascular response to changes in Paco2 in the human brain are not pronounced. In the current study, these regional differences were evaluated. In each of the 11 healthy subjects, cerebral blood flow (CBF) was measured using 15O-water and positron emission tomography at rest and during hypercapnia and hypocapnia. All CBF images were globally normalized for CBF and transformed into the standard brain anatomy. t values between rest and hypercapnia or hypocapnia conditions were calculated on a pixel-by-pixel basis. In the pons, cerebellum, thalamus, and putamen, significant relative hyperperfusion during hypercapnia was observed, indicating a large capacity for vasodilatation. In the pons and putamen, a significant relative hypoperfusion during hypocapnia, that is, a large capacity for vasoconstriction, was also observed, indicating marked vascular responsiveness. In the temporal, temporo-occipital, and occipital cortices, significant relative hypoperfusion during hypercapnia and significant relative hypoperfusion during hypocapnia were observed, indicating that cerebral vascular tone at rest might incline toward vasodilatation. Such regional heterogeneity of the cerebral vascular response should be considered in the assessment of cerebral perfusion reserve by hypercapnia and in the correction of CBF measurements for variations in subjects' resting Paco2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arteries
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypercapnia / physiopathology
  • Hypocapnia / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypocapnia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Partial Pressure
  • Rest
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Vasomotor System / physiology*
  • Vasomotor System / physiopathology


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen