Sources of variability of resting cerebral blood flow in healthy subjects: a study using ¹³³Xe SPECT measurements

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2013 May;33(5):787-92. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2013.17. Epub 2013 Feb 13.


Measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF) show large variability among healthy subjects. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relative effect of established factors influencing CBF on the variability of resting CBF. We retrospectively analyzed spontaneous variability in 430 CBF measurements acquired in 152 healthy, young subjects using (133)Xe single-photon emission computed tomography. Cerebral blood flow was correlated positively with both end-tidal expiratory PCO₂ (PETCO₂) and female gender and inversely with hematocrit (Hct). Between- and within-subject CO₂ reactivity was not significantly different. Including PETCO₂, Hct and gender in the model reduced between-subject and within-subject variance by 14% and 13.5%, respectively. Within-subject variability was mainly influenced by PETCO₂ and between-subject variability mostly by Hct, whereas gender appeared to be of little added value when Hct was also accounted for. The present study confirms large between-subject variability in CBF measurements and that gender, Hct, and PETCO₂ explain only a small part of this variability. This implies that a large fraction of CBF variability may be due to unknown factors such as differences in neuron density or metabolism that could be subject for further studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Female
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rest / physiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Xenon Radioisotopes*
  • Young Adult


  • Xenon Radioisotopes
  • Carbon Dioxide