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Dual-calibrated fMRI is a multi-parametric technique that allows for the quantification of the resting oxygen extraction fraction (OEF), the absolute rate of cerebral metabolic oxygen consumption (CMRO2), cerebral vascular reactivity (CVR) and baseline perfusion (CBF). It combines measurements of arterial spin labelling (ASL) and blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal changes during hypercapnic and hyperoxic gas challenges. Here we propose an extension to this methodology that permits the simultaneous quantification of the effective oxygen diffusivity of the capillary network (DC). The effective oxygen diffusivity has the scope to be an informative biomarker and useful adjunct to CMRO2, potentially providing a non-invasive metric of microvascular health, which is known to be disturbed in a range of neurological diseases. We demonstrate the new method in a cohort of healthy volunteers (n = 19) both at rest and during visual stimulation. The effective oxygen diffusivity was found to be highly correlated with CMRO2 during rest and activation, consistent with previous PET observations of a strong correlation between metabolic oxygen demand and effective diffusivity. The increase in effective diffusivity during functional activation was found to be consistent with previously reported increases in capillary blood volume, supporting the notion that measured oxygen diffusivity is sensitive to microvascular physiology.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





717 - 728


Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Cerebrovascular Circulation, Diffusion, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Models, Neurological, Models, Theoretical, Oxygen, Oxygen Consumption, Photic Stimulation