Muscle blood flow and oxygenation measured by NMR imaging and spectroscopy


  • This paper is published as part of a Special Issue entitled “NMR of the Musculoskeletal System.”


Tissue perfusion and oxygenation in many organs can be evaluated by various NMR techniques. This review focuses on the specificities, limitations and adaptations of the NMR tools available to investigate perfusion and oxygenation in the skeletal muscle of humans and animal models. A description of how they may be used simultaneously is provided as well. 1H NMR spectroscopy of myoglobin (Mb) monitors intramyocytic oxygenation. It measures the level of deoxy-Mb, from which Mb concentration, Mb desaturation/resaturation rates, muscle oxygenation changes and intracellular partial oxygen pressure (pO2) can be calculated. Positive and negative blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) contrasts exist in skeletal muscle. BOLD contrasts primarily reflect changes in capillary–venous oxygenation, but are also directly or indirectly dependent on muscle blood volume, perfusion, vascular network architecture and angulation, relative to the main magnetic field. Arterial spin labelling (ASL) techniques, having high spatial and temporal resolution, are the methods of choice to quantify and map skeletal muscle perfusion non-invasively. Limitations of ASL are poor contrast-to-noise ratio and sensitivity to movement; however, with the introduction of specific adaptations, it has been proven possible to measure skeletal muscle perfusion at both rest and during exercise. The possibility of combining these NMR measurements with others into a single dynamic protocol is most interesting. The ‘multiparametric functional (mpf) NMR’ concept can be extended to include the evaluation of muscle energy metabolism simultaneously with 31P NMR or with lactate double quantum filtered 1H NMR spectroscopy, an approach which would make NMR an exceptional tool for non-invasive investigations of integrative physiology and biochemistry in skeletal muscle in vivo. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.