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Cerebral blood flow quantification in the rat: a direct comparison of arterial spin labeling MRI with radioactive microsphere PET

Agnieszka Boś1*, Ralf Bergmann1, Klaus Strobel2, Frank Hofheinz1, Jörg Steinbach1 and Jörg van den Hoff1

Author Affiliations

1 PET Centre, Institute of Radiopharmacy, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

2 Department of Clinical Radiology, University Hospital Münster

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EJNMMI Research 2012, 2:47  doi:10.1186/2191-219X-2-47

Published: 15 September 2012



Arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging (ASL-MRI) has been recognised as a valuable method for non-invasive assessment of cerebral blood flow but validation studies regarding quantification accuracy by comparison against an accepted gold standard are scarce, especially in small animals. We have conducted the present study with the aim of comparing ASL flow-sensitive alternating inversion recovery (FAIR)-derived unidirectional water uptake (K1) and 68Ga/64Cu microsphere (MS)-derived blood flow (f) in the rat brain.


In 15 animals, K1and f were determined successively in dedicated small animal positron emission tomography and MR scanners. The Renkin-Crone model modified by a scaling factor was used for the quantification of f and K1.


Below about 1 mL/min/mL, we obtain an approximately linear relationship between f and K1. At higher flow values, the limited permeability of water at the blood brain barrier becomes apparent. Within the accessed dynamic flow range (0.2 to 1.9 mL/min/mL), the data are adequately described by the Renkin-Crone model yielding a permeability surface area product of (1.53±0.46) mL/min/mL.


The ASL-FAIR technique is suitable for absolute blood flow quantification in the rat brain when using a one-compartment model including a suitable extraction correction for data evaluation.

Trial registration

24-9168.21-4/2004-1 (registered in Freistadt Sachsen, Landesdirektion Dresden)

Arterial spin labeling; Cerebral blood flow; Positron emission tomography; Kinetic modeling; Blood brain barrier