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Investigations into the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional MRI signal have used respiratory challenges with the aim of probing cerebrovascular physiology. Such challenges have altered the inspired partial pressures of either carbon dioxide or oxygen, typically to a fixed and constant level (fixed inspired challenge (FIC)). The resulting end-tidal gas partial pressures then depend on the subject's metabolism and ventilatory responses. In contrast, dynamic end-tidal forcing (DEF) rapidly and independently sets end-tidal oxygen and carbon dioxide to desired levels by altering the inspired gas partial pressures on a breath-by-breath basis using computer-controlled feedback. This study implements DEF in the MRI environment to map BOLD signal reactivity to CO(2). We performed BOLD (T2(*)) contrast FMRI in four healthy male volunteers, while using DEF to provide a cyclic normocapnic-hypercapnic challenge, with each cycle lasting 4 mins (PET(CO(2)) mean+/-s.d., from 40.9+/-1.8 to 46.4+/-1.6 mm Hg). This was compared with a traditional fixed-inspired (FI(CO(2))=5%) hypercapnic challenge (PET(CO(2)) mean+/-s.d., from 38.2+/-2.1 to 45.6+/-1.4 mm Hg). Dynamic end-tidal forcing achieved the desired target PET(CO(2)) for each subject while maintaining PET(O(2)) constant. As a result of CO(2)-induced increases in ventilation, the FIC showed a greater cyclic fluctuation in PET(O(2)). These were associated with spatially widespread fluctuations in BOLD signal that were eliminated largely by the control of PET(O(2)) during DEF. The DEF system can provide flexible, convenient, and physiologically well-controlled respiratory challenges in the MRI environment for mapping dynamic responses of the cerebrovasculature.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cereb Blood Flow Metab

Publication Date





1521 - 1532


Adult, Brain, Carbon Dioxide, Cerebrovascular Circulation, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Oxygen, Partial Pressure, Respiratory Physiological Phenomena, Tidal Volume