Cerebrovascular carbon dioxide (CO2) reactivity is an important hemodynamic index in cerebrovascular disease. In the present study T2*-weighted magnetic resonance image (T2* WI) was evaluated as a non-invasive method to investigate changes in CO2 reactivity. Fourteen rats were subjected to permanent or, 30 and 90 min of temporary middle cerebral artery occlusion. A series of T2* WIs and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images (DWI) was performed hourly under normo- and hypercapnic conditions. Triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining of brain sections was obtained at the end of experiment to evaluate ischemic damage. During ischemia, a 4-6% signal increase upon hypercapnia was observed on T2* WI in the non-ischemic hemisphere, while no such reactivity was seen in the putamen and cortex ipsilateral to the MCA occlusion. After reperfusion, CO2 reactivity recovered in the putamen and cortex in the 30 min ischemia group and in the cortex alone of the 90 min ischemia groups. The areas with irreversible CO2 reactivity dysfunction coincidentally revealed no recovery on DWI and lack of TTC staining. The results indicate that T2* WI can be used to monitor changes in CO2 reactivity after various ischemic insults that may indicate tissue viability.
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