Methylene blue USP (MB) at low doses has metabolic-enhancing and antioxidant properties and exhibits experimental neurotherapeutic benefits, but little is known about its in vivo effects on cerebral blood flow (CBF), functional evoked responses, and the associated changes in cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2). This study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate the in vivo effects of a single intravenous MB therapeutic dose (0.5mg/kg) on basal CBF, blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) and CBF responses to hypercapnic (5% CO2 in air) inhalation, as well as changes in BOLD, CBF, and CMRO2 during forepaw stimulation in the rat brain. MB did not have significant effects on arterial oxygen saturation, heart rate and fMRI responses to hypercapnia. However, MB significantly potentiated forepaw-evoked BOLD and CBF changes under normoxia. To further evaluate in vivo effects of MB under metabolic stress conditions, MRI measurements were also made under mild hypoxia (15% O2). Hypoxia per se increased evoked functional MRI responses. MB under hypoxia further potentiated forepaw-evoked BOLD, CBF and oxygen consumption responses relative to normoxia. These findings provide insights into MB's effects on cerebral hemodynamics in vivo and could help to optimize treatments in neurological diseases with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress.
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