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Keywords:

  • blood-brain barrier;
  • DCEMRI;
  • fast T1 mapping;
  • contrast agent;
  • albumin index

Abstract

Breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), occurring in many neurological diseases, has been difficult to measure noninvasively in humans. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging measures BBB permeability. However, important technical challenges remain and normative data from healthy humans is lacking. We report the implementation of a method for measuring BBB permeability, originally developed in animals, to estimate BBB permeability in both healthy subjects and patients with white matter pathology. Fast T1 mapping was used to measure the leakage of contrast agent Gadolinium diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (Gd-DTPA) from plasma into brain. A quarter of the standard Gd-DTPA dose for dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging was found to give both sufficient contrast-to-noise and high T1 sensitivity. The Patlak graphical approach was used to calculate the permeability from changes in 1/T1. Permeability constants were compared with cerebrospinal fluid albumin index. The upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for white matter BBB permeability for normal subjects was 3 × 10−4 L/g min. MRI measurements correlated strongly with levels of cerebrospinal fluid albumin in those subjects undergoing lumbar puncture. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging with low dose Gd-DTPA and fast T1 imaging is a sensitive method to measure subtle differences in BBB permeability in humans and may have advantages over techniques based purely on the measurement of pixel contrast changes. Magn Reson Med, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.