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Magn Reson Med. 2009 Mar;61(3):579-86. doi: 10.1002/mrm.21897.

Functional changes in CSF volume estimated using measurement of water T2 relaxation.

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Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, Oxford University, United Kingdom.


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) provides hydraulic suspension for the brain. The general concept of bulk CSF production, circulation, and reabsorption is well established, but the mechanisms of momentary CSF volume variation corresponding to vasoreactive changes are far less understood. Nine individuals were studied in a 3T MR scanner with a protocol that included visual stimulation using a 10-Hz reversing checkerboard and administration of a 5% CO(2) mix in air. We acquired PRESS-localized spin-echoes (TR = 12 sec, TE = 26 ms to 1.5 sec) from an 8-mL voxel located in the visual cortex. Echo amplitudes were fitted to a two-compartmental model of relaxation to estimate the partial volume of CSF and the T(2) relaxation times of the tissues. CSF signal contributed 10.7 +/- 3% of the total, with T(2,csf) = 503.0 +/- 64.3 [ms], T(2,brain) = 61.0 +/- 2 [ms]. The relaxation time of tissue increased during physiological stimulation, while the fraction of signal contributed by CSF decreased significantly by 5-6% with visual stimulation (P < 0.03) and by 3% under CO(2) inhalation (P < 0.08). The CSF signal fraction is shown to represent well the volume changes under viable physiological scenarios. In conclusion, CSF plays a significant role in buffering the changes in cerebral blood volume, especially during rapid functional stimuli.

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