Transient deoxyhemoglobin formation as a contrast for perfusion MRI studies in patients with brain tumors: a feasibility study

Front Physiol. 2024 Apr 25:15:1238533. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2024.1238533. eCollection 2024.


Background: Transient hypoxia-induced deoxyhemoglobin (dOHb) has recently been shown to represent a comparable contrast to gadolinium-based contrast agents for generating resting perfusion measures in healthy subjects. Here, we investigate the feasibility of translating this non-invasive approach to patients with brain tumors. Methods: A computer-controlled gas blender was used to induce transient precise isocapnic lung hypoxia and thereby transient arterial dOHb during echo-planar-imaging acquisition in a cohort of patients with different types of brain tumors (n = 9). We calculated relative cerebral blood volume (rCBV), cerebral blood flow (rCBF), and mean transit time (MTT) using a standard model-based analysis. The transient hypoxia induced-dOHb MRI perfusion maps were compared to available clinical DSC-MRI. Results: Transient hypoxia induced-dOHb based maps of resting perfusion displayed perfusion patterns consistent with underlying tumor histology and showed high spatial coherence to gadolinium-based DSC MR perfusion maps. Conclusion: Non-invasive transient hypoxia induced-dOHb was well-tolerated in patients with different types of brain tumors, and the generated rCBV, rCBF and MTT maps appear in good agreement with perfusion maps generated with gadolinium-based DSC MR perfusion.

Keywords: MR perfusion; advanced imaging; brain tumor; deoxyhemoglobin; glioblastoma.

Grants and funding

Swiss Cancer Research Foundation (KFS-3975-08-2016-R). Vittorio Stumpo is supported by the UZH Candoc Grant FK-23-048.