Impact of Vasodilation on Oxygen-Enhanced Functional Lung MRI at 0.55 T

Invest Radiol. 2023 Sep 1;58(9):663-672. doi: 10.1097/RLI.0000000000000958.


Background: Oxygen-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (OE-MRI) can be used to assess regional lung function without ionizing radiation. Inhaled oxygen acts as a T1-shortening contrast agent to increase signal in T1-weighted (T1w) images. However, increase in proton density from pulmonary hyperoxic vasodilation may also contribute to the measured signal enhancement. Our aim was to quantify the relative contributions of the T1-shortening and vasodilatory effects of oxygen to signal enhancement in OE-MRI in both swine and healthy volunteers.

Methods: We imaged 14 anesthetized female swine (47 ± 8 kg) using a prototype 0.55 T high-performance MRI system while experimentally manipulating oxygenation and blood volume independently through oxygen titration, partial occlusion of the vena cava for volume reduction, and infusion of colloid fluid (6% hydroxyethyl starch) for volume increase. Ten healthy volunteers were imaged before, during, and after hyperoxia. Two proton density-weighted (PDw) and 2 T1w ultrashort echo time images were acquired per experimental state. The median PDw and T1w percent signal enhancement (PSE), compared with baseline room air, was calculated after image registration and correction for lung volume changes. Differences in median PSE were compared using Wilcoxon signed rank test.

Results: The PSE in PDw images after 100% oxygen was similar in swine (1.66% ± 1.41%, P = 0.01) and in healthy volunteers (1.99% ± 1.79%, P = 0.02), indicating that oxygen-induced pulmonary vasodilation causes ~2% lung proton density increase. The PSE in T1w images after 100% oxygen was also similar (swine, 9.20% ± 1.68%, P < 0.001; healthy volunteers, 10.10% ± 3.05%, P < 0.001). The PSE in T1w enhancement was oxygen dose-dependent in anesthetized swine, and we measured a dose-dependent PDw image signal increase from infused fluids.

Conclusions: The contribution of oxygen-induced vasodilation to T1w OE-MRI signal was measurable using PDw imaging and was found to be ~2% in both anesthetized swine and in healthy volunteers. This finding may have implications for patients with regional or global hypoxia or vascular dysfunction undergoing OE-MRI and suggest that PDw imaging may be useful to account for oxygen-induced vasodilation in OE-MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Diseases*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Oxygen*
  • Protons
  • Swine
  • Vasodilation


  • Oxygen
  • Protons