Implementation and validation of ASL perfusion measurements for population imaging

Magn Reson Med. 2020 Oct;84(4):2048-2054. doi: 10.1002/mrm.28271. Epub 2020 Apr 2.


Purpose: Pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling (pCASL) allows for noninvasive measurement of regional cerebral blood flow (CBF), which has the potential to serve as biomarker for neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. This work aimed to implement and validate pCASL on the dedicated MRI system within the population-based Rotterdam Study, which was installed in 2005 and for which software and hardware configurations have remained fixed.

Methods: Imaging was performed on two 1.5T MRI systems (General Electric); (I) the Rotterdam Study system, and (II) a hospital-based system with a product pCASL sequence. An in-house implementation of pCASL was created on scanner I. A flow phantom and three healthy volunteers (<27 years) were scanned on both systems for validation purposes. The data of the first 30 participants (86 ± 4 years) of the Rotterdam Study undergoing pCASL scans on scanner I only were analyzed with and without partial volume correction for gray matter.

Results: The validation study showed a difference in blood flow velocity, sensitivity, and spatial coefficient of variation of the perfusion-weighted signal between the two scanners, which was accounted for during post-processing. Gray matter CBF for the Rotterdam Study participants was 52.4 ± 8.2 ml/100 g/min, uncorrected for partial volume effects of gray matter. In this elderly cohort, partial volume correction for gray matter had a variable effect on measured CBF in a range of cortical and sub-cortical regions of interest.

Conclusion: Regional CBF measurements are now included to investigate novel biomarkers in the Rotterdam Study. This work highlights that when it is not feasible to purchase a novel ASL sequence, an in-house implementation is valuable.

Keywords: arterial spin labeling; cerebral blood flow; flow phantom; population imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Perfusion
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spin Labels


  • Spin Labels