Increased blood–brain barrier permeability to water in the aging brain detected using noninvasive multi‐TE ASL MRI
A fundamental goal in the drive to understand and find better treatments for dementia is the identification of the factors that render the aging brain vulnerable to neurodegenerative disease. Recent evidence indicates the integrity of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) to be an important component of functional failure underlying age‐related cognitive decline. Practical and sensitive measurement is necessary, therefore, to support diagnostic and therapeutic strategies targeted at maintaining BBB integrity in aging patients. Here, we investigated changes in BBB permeability to endogenous blood water in the aging brain.
A multiple‐echo‐time arterial spin‐labeling MRI technique, implemented on a 9.4T Bruker imaging system, was applied to 7‐ and 27‐month‐old mice to measure changes in water permeability across the BBB with aging.
We observed that BBB water permeability was 32% faster in aged mice. This occurred along with a 2.1‐fold increase in mRNA expression of aquaporin‐4 water channels and a 7.1‐fold decrease in mRNA expression of α‐syntrophin protein, which anchors aquaporin‐4 to the BBB.
Age‐related changes to water permeability across the BBB can be captured using noninvasive noncontrast MRI techniques.