The quantitative evaluation of brain hemodynamics and metabolism, particularly the relationship between brain function and oxygen utilization, is important for the understanding of normal human brain operation, as well as the pathophysiology of neurological disorders. It can also be of great importance for the evaluation of hypoxia within tumors of the brain and other organs. A fundamental discovery by Ogawa and coworkers of the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrast opened up the possibility to use this effect to study brain hemodynamic and metabolic properties by means of MRI measurements. Such measurements require the development of theoretical models connecting the MRI signal to brain structure and function, and the design of experimental techniques allowing MR measurements to be made of the salient features of theoretical models. In this review, we discuss several such theoretical models and experimental methods for the quantification of brain hemodynamic and metabolic properties. The review's main focus is on methods for the evaluation of the oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) based on the measurement of the blood oxygenation level. A combination of the measurement of OEF and the cerebral blood flow (CBF) allows an evaluation to be made of the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption (CMRO2). We first consider in detail the magnetic properties of blood - magnetic susceptibility, MR relaxation and theoretical models of the intravascular contribution to the MR signal under different experimental conditions. We then describe a 'through-space' effect - the influence of inhomogeneous magnetic fields, created in the extravascular space by intravascular deoxygenated blood, on the formation of the MR signal. Further, we describe several experimental techniques taking advantage of these theoretical models. Some of these techniques - MR susceptometry and T2-based quantification of OEF - utilize the intravascular MR signal. Another technique - quantitative BOLD - evaluates OEF by making use of through-space effects. In this review, we target both scientists just entering the MR field and more experienced MR researchers interested in the application of advanced BOLD-based techniques to the study of the brain in health and disease.
- Blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD)
- Cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption (CMRO)
- Oxygen extraction fraction (OEF)
- Quantitative BOLD (qBOLD)