Aging effects on cerebral blood and cerebrospinal fluid flows

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2007 Sep;27(9):1563-72. doi: 10.1038/sj.jcbfm.9600462. Epub 2007 Feb 21.


Phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (PC-MRI) is a noninvasive reliable technique, which enables quantification of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and total cerebral blood flows (tCBF). Although it is used to study hydrodynamic cerebral disorders in the elderly group (hydrocephalus), there is no published evaluation of aging effects on both tCBF and CSF flows, and on their mechanical coupling. Nineteen young (mean age 27+/-4 years) and 12 elderly (71+/-9 years) healthy volunteers underwent cerebral MRI using 1.5 T scanner. Phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging pulse sequence was performed at the aqueductal and cervical levels. Cerebrospinal fluid and blood flow curves were then calculated over the cardiac cycle, to extract the characteristic parameters: mean and peak flows, their latencies, and stroke volumes for CSF (cervical and aqueductal) and vascular flows. Total cerebral blood flow was (P<0.01) decreased significantly in the elderly group when compared with the young subjects with a linear correlation with age observed only in the elderly group (R(2)=0.7; P=0.05). Arteriovenous delay was preserved with aging. The CSF stroke volumes were significantly reduced in the elderly, at both aqueductal (P<0.01) and cervical (P<0.05) levels, whereas aqueduct/cervical proportion (P=0.9) was preserved. This is the first work to study aging effects on both CSF and vascular cerebral flows. Data showed (1) tCBF decrease, (2) proportional aqueductal and cervical CSF pulsations reduction as a result of arterial loss of pulsatility, and (3) preserved intracerebral compliance with aging. These results should be used as reference values, to help understand the pathophysiology of degenerative dementia and cerebral hydrodynamic disorders as hydrocephalus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Cerebral Aqueduct / physiology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine
  • Male