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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;69(1):48-53.

Reduced cerebral blood flow in white matter in ischaemic leukoaraiosis demonstrated using quantitative exogenous contrast based perfusion MRI.

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Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Guy's, King's, and St Thomas' Hospital School of Medicine and the Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.



White matter hypoperfusion may play a part in the pathogenesis of ischaemic leukoaraiosis, but demonstration of this requires a high resolution quantitative method of cerebral blood flow (CBF) measurement. Initial exogenous contrast based MRI methods only allowed measurement of relative cerebral blood volume (CBV) values, but more recently a mathematical approach has been developed which enables absolute regional CBF and CBV to be determined. This technique was applied to patients with ischaemic leukoaraiosis to determine whether reduced white matter CBF in this patient group could be demonstrated.


Eight patients with ischaemic leukoaraiosis (radiological leukoaraiosis and clinical lacunar stroke), and nine age matched controls were studied. A spin echo echoplanar image sequence was used on a 1.5 Tesla MR system. An arterial input function was obtained from voxels placed over the middle cerebral arteries. Cerebral blood flow, CBV, and mean transit (MTT) maps were derived. Regions of interest were placed at standard positions in the white and grey matter and mean values of CBF, CBV, and MTT were compared between the two groups.


Mean (SD) white matter CBF was significantly reduced in patients by 38% (13.40 (4.87) v 21.74 (3.53) ml/min/ 100 g, p=0.002). Significant reductions in CBF were seen in all white matter regions. By contrast there was no reduction in CBF in any grey matter region. There was no significant difference in white matter CBV between cases and controls; mean values were lower in all white matter regions for patients but this did not reach significance for any region. By contrast mean grey matter CBV was significantly higher in patients than in controls. Mean MTT values were higher in all regions of grey and white matter in the patient group, but this only achieved significance for the superior white matter.


A quantitative MR perfusion method showed reduced white matter CBF in patients with ischaemic leukoaraiosis, but normal grey matter CBF. This is consistent with hypoperfusion playing a part in the pathogenesis of ischaemic leukoaraiosis. The absolute values of white matter and grey matter CBF obtained in the patient groups were very similar to those in previous PET studies, providing further evidence for the validity of the regional CBF measurements obtained using this quantitative MR perfusion technique. The high spatial resolution and lack of radioactive administration makes such techniques ideal for longitudinal studies in this condition.

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