Background: Blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a measure of deoxyhemoglobin content and therefore an indirect measure of the partial oxygen pressure (pO(2)). The main purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the apparent relaxation rate (R2*) in the pig kidney by BOLD imaging and renal tissue pO(2) levels measured directly by oxygen-sensitive microelectrodes. Second, BOLD imaging was applied to kidneys in pigs subjected to acute unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) to examine whether this condition is associated with changes in intrarenal oxygenation.
Methods: Oxygen-sensitive microelectrodes were inserted in the cortex and medulla of pig kidneys (N= 6). Different arterial and intrarenal levels of pO(2) were obtained by stepwise changing the oxygen-to-nitrogen ratio supplied by a respirator. Simultaneous BOLD MRI measurements using an R2*-sensitive Echo Planar Imaging (EPI) sequence were performed on the contralateral kidney. In another group of pigs (N= 3) BOLD imaging was performed following 24 hours of UUO.
Results: When the inhaled oxygen fraction was 5% to 70%, R2* was linearly related to pO(2) levels (cortex DeltaR2*/DeltapO(2)=-1.2 ms(-1)kPa(-1), and medulla DeltaR2*/DeltapO2 =-1.7 ms(-1)kPa(-1)). Twenty-four hours of UUO was associated with an increased R2* in the cortex and a decreased R2* in medulla as compared with baseline, which remained augmented after the release of UUO, indicating that pO(2) levels were reduced in the cortex and increased in the medulla during and after release of obstruction.
Conclusion: BOLD MRI provides noninvasive estimates of regional renal oxygen content and our study demonstrates that this technique may provide a useful tool in UUO which is associated with altered renal oxygen consumption.