Cerebrovascular reactivity measures vascular regulation of cerebral blood flow and is responsible for maintaining healthy neurovascular coupling. Multiple sclerosis exhibits progressive neurodegeneration and global cerebrovascular reactivity deficits. This study investigates varied degrees of cerebrovascular reactivity impairment in different brain networks, which may be an underlying cause for functional changes in the brain, affecting long-distance projection integrity and cognitive function; 28 multiple sclerosis and 28 control subjects underwent pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling perfusion MRI to measure cerebral blood flow under normocapnia (room air) and hypercapnia (5% carbon dioxide gas mixture) breathing. Cerebrovascular reactivity, measured as normocapnic to hypercapnic cerebral blood flow percent increase normalized by end-tidal carbon dioxide change, was determined from seven functional networks (default mode, frontoparietal, somatomotor, visual, limbic, dorsal, and ventral attention networks). Group analysis showed significantly decreased cerebrovascular reactivity in patients compared to controls within the default mode, frontoparietal, somatomotor, and ventral attention networks after multiple comparison correction. Regression analysis showed a significant correlation of cerebrovascular reactivity with lesion load in the default mode and ventral attention networks and with gray matter atrophy in the default mode network. Functional networks in multiple sclerosis patients exhibit varied amounts of cerebrovascular reactivity deficits. Such blood flow regulation abnormalities may contribute to functional communication disruption in multiple sclerosis.
Keywords: Arterial spin labeling; MRI; brain imaging; cerebral blood flow; multiple sclerosis.
© The Author(s) 2016.