Morphology of perivascular spaces and enclosed blood vessels in young to middle-aged healthy adults at 7T: Dependences on age, brain region, and breathing gas

Xiaopeng Zong, Chunfeng Lian, Jordan Jimenez, Koji Yamashita, Dinggang Shen, Weili Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Perivascular spaces (PVSs) are fluid-filled spaces surrounding penetrating blood vessels in the brain and are an integral pathway of the glymphatic system. A PVS and the enclosed blood vessel are commonly visualized as a single vessel-like complex (denoted as PVSV) in high-resolution MRI images. Quantitative characterization of the PVSV morphology in MRI images in healthy subjects may serve as a reference for detecting disease related PVS and/or blood vessel alterations in patients with brain diseases. To this end, we evaluated the age dependences, spatial heterogeneities, and dynamic properties of PVSV morphological features in 45 healthy subjects (21–55 years old), using an ultra-high-resolution three-dimensional transverse relaxation time weighted MRI sequence (0.41 ​× ​0.41 ​× ​0.4 ​mm3) at 7T. Quantitative PVSV parameters, including apparent diameter, count, volume fraction (VF), and relative contrast to noise ratio (rCNR) were calculated in the white matter and subcortical structures. Dynamic changes were induced by carbogen breathing which are known to induce vasodilation and increase the blood oxygenation level in the brain. PVSV count and VF significantly increased with age in basal ganglia (BG), so did rCNR in BG, midbrain, and white matter (WM). Apparent PVSV diameter also showed a positive association with age in the three brain regions, although it did not reach statistical significance. The PVSV VF and count showed large inter-subject variations, with coefficients of variation ranging from 0.17 to 0.74 after regressing out age and gender effects. Both apparent diameter and VF exhibited significant spatial heterogeneity, which cannot be explained solely by radio-frequency field inhomogeneities. Carbogen breathing significantly increased VF in BG and WM, and rCNR in thalamus, BG, and WM compared to air breathing. Our results are consistent with gradual dilation of PVSs with age in healthy adults. The PVSV morphology exhibited spatial heterogeneity and large inter-subject variations and changed during carbogen breathing compared to air breathing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116978
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Carbogen breathing
  • Glymphatic system
  • Heterogeneity
  • High field MRI
  • Human brain
  • Morphology
  • Perivascular spaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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