Assessment of myocardial reactivity to controlled hypercapnia with free-breathing T2-prepared cardiac blood oxygen level-dependent MR imaging

Radiology. 2014 Aug;272(2):397-406. doi: 10.1148/radiol.14132549. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


Purpose: To examine whether controlled and tolerable levels of hypercapnia may be an alternative to adenosine, a routinely used coronary vasodilator, in healthy human subjects and animals.

Materials and methods: Human studies were approved by the institutional review board and were HIPAA compliant. Eighteen subjects had end-tidal partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PetCO2) increased by 10 mm Hg, and myocardial perfusion was monitored with myocardial blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Animal studies were approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. Anesthetized canines with (n = 7) and without (n = 7) induced stenosis of the left anterior descending artery (LAD) underwent vasodilator challenges with hypercapnia and adenosine. LAD coronary blood flow velocity and free-breathing myocardial BOLD MR responses were measured at each intervention. Appropriate statistical tests were performed to evaluate measured quantitative changes in all parameters of interest in response to changes in partial pressure of carbon dioxide.

Results: Changes in myocardial BOLD MR signal were equivalent to reported changes with adenosine (11.2% ± 10.6 [hypercapnia, 10 mm Hg] vs 12% ± 12.3 [adenosine]; P = .75). In intact canines, there was a sigmoidal relationship between BOLD MR response and PetCO2 with most of the response occurring over a 10 mm Hg span. BOLD MR (17% ± 14 [hypercapnia] vs 14% ± 24 [adenosine]; P = .80) and coronary blood flow velocity (21% ± 16 [hypercapnia] vs 26% ± 27 [adenosine]; P > .99) responses were similar to that of adenosine infusion. BOLD MR signal changes in canines with LAD stenosis during hypercapnia and adenosine infusion were not different (1% ± 4 [hypercapnia] vs 6% ± 4 [adenosine]; P = .12).

Conclusion: Free-breathing T2-prepared myocardial BOLD MR imaging showed that hypercapnia of 10 mm Hg may provide a cardiac hyperemic stimulus similar to adenosine.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology*
  • Dogs
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / physiopathology*
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Oximetry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Adenosine