Relative delays in blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal oscillations can be used to assess cerebral perfusion without using contrast agents. However, little is currently known about the utility of this method in detecting clinically relevant perfusion changes over time. We investigated the relationship between longitudinal BOLD delay changes, vessel recanalization, and reperfusion in 15 acute stroke patients with vessel occlusion examined within 24 h of symptom onset (D0) and one day later (D1). We created BOLD delay maps using time shift analysis of resting-state functional MRI data and quantified perfusion lesion volume changes (using the D1/D0 volume ratio) and severity changes (using a linear mixed model) over time. Between baseline and follow-up, BOLD delay lesions shrank (median D1/D0 ratio = 0.2, IQR = 0.03-0.7) and BOLD delay severity decreased (b = -4.4 s) in patients with recanalization, whereas they grew (median D1/D0 ratio = 1.47, IQR = 1.1-1.7) and became more severe (b = 4.3 s) in patients with persistent vessel occlusion. Clinically relevant changes in cerebral perfusion in early stroke can be detected using BOLD delay, making this non-invasive method a promising option for detecting tissue at risk of infarction and monitoring stroke patients following recanalization therapy.
Keywords: Blood-oxygen-level-dependent delay; acute stroke; blood flow; perfusion; resting-state functional MRI.