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Dynamic Na MRI - A non-invasive window on neuroglial-vascular mechanisms underlying brain function.

M. Bydder, W. Zaaraoui, B. Ridley, M. Soubrier, M. Bertinetti, S. Confort-Gouny, L. Schad, M. Guye and J. Ranjeva

NeuroImage, 184, pp.771-780

A novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) acquisition and reconstruction method for obtaining a series of dynamic sodium Na-MRI acquisitions was designed to non-invasively assess the signal variations of brain sodium during a hand motor task in 14 healthy human volunteers on an ultra high field (7T) MR scanner. Regions undergoing activation and deactivation were identified with reference to conventional task-related BOLD functional MRI (fMRI). Activation observed in the left central regions, the supplementary motor areas and the left cerebellum induced an increase in the sodium signal observed at ultra short echo time and a decrease in the Na signal observed at long echo time. Based on a simple model of two distinct sodium pools (namely, restricted and mobile sodium), the ultra short echo time measures the totality of sodium whereas the long echo time is mainly sensitive to mobile sodium. This activation pattern is consistent with previously described processes related to an influx of Na into the intracellular compartments and a moderate increase in the cerebral blood volume (CBV). In contrast, deactivation observed in the right central regions ipsilateral to the movement, the precuneus and the left cerebellum induced a slight decrease in sodium signal at ultra short echo time and an increase of sodium signal at longer echo times. This inhibitory pattern is compatible with a slight decrease in CBV and an efflux of intracellular Na to the extracellular compartments that may reflect neural dendritic spine and astrocytic shrinkage, and an increase of sodium in the extracellular fraction. In conclusion, cerebral dynamic Na MRI experiments can provide access to the ionic transients following a functional task occurring within the neuro-glial-vascular ensemble. This has the potential to open up a novel non-invasive window on the mechanisms underlying brain function.

Contact: Dr. Frank Zöllner last modified: 02.06.2020
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