Cerebrovascular diseases can impair blood circulation and oxygen extraction from the blood. The effective oxygen diffusivity (EOD) of the capillary bed is a potential biomarker of microvascular function that has gained increasing interest, both for clinical diagnosis and for elucidating oxygen transport mechanisms. Models of capillary oxygen transport link EOD to measurable oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) and cerebral blood flow (CBF). In this work, we confirm that two well established mathematical models of oxygen transport yield nearly equivalent EOD maps. Furthermore, we propose an easy-to-implement and clinically applicable multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol for quantitative EOD mapping. Our approach is based on imaging OEF and CBF with multiparametric quantitative blood oxygenation level dependent (mq-BOLD) MRI and pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (pCASL), respectively. We evaluated the imaging protocol by comparing MRI-EOD maps of 12 young healthy volunteers to PET data from a published study in different individuals. Our results show comparably good correlation between MRI- and PET-derived cortical EOD, OEF and CBF. Importantly, absolute values of MRI and PET showed high accordance for all three parameters. In conclusion, our data indicates feasibility of the proposed MRI protocol for EOD mapping, rendering the method promising for future clinical evaluation of patients with cerebrovascular diseases.
Keywords: Effective oxygen diffusivity (EOD); arterial spin labeling (ASL); capillary oxygen transport; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); mq-BOLD.