Blood flow MRI of the human retina/choroid during rest and isometric exercise

Yi Zhang, Oscar San Emeterio Nateras, Qi Peng, Carlos A. Rosende, Timothy Q. Duong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To investigate blood flow (BF) in the human retina/ choroid during rest and handgrip isometric exercise using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). METHODS. Four healthy volunteers (25-36 years old) in multiple sessions (1-3) on different days. MRI studies were performed on a 3-Tesla scanner using a custom-made surface coil (735cm in diameter) at the spatial resolution of 0.530.836.0 mm. BF was measured using the pseudo-continuous arterial-spinlabeling technique with background suppression and turbospin- echo acquisition. During MRI, subjects rested for 1 minute followed by 1 minute of handgrip, repeating three times, while maintaining stable eye fixation on a target with cued eye blinks at the end of each data acquisition (every 4.6 seconds). RESULTS. Robust BF of the unanesthetized human retina/ choroid was detected. Basal BF in the posterior retina/choroid was 149 ± 48 mL/100 mL/min with a mean heart rate of 60 ± 5 beats per minute, mean arterial pressure of 78 6 5 mm Hg, ocular perfusion pressure of 67 ± 4 mm Hg at rest (mean 6 SD, n 1/4 4 subjects). Handgrip significantly increased retina/ choroid BF by 25% ± 7%, heart rate by 19% 6 8%, mean arterial pressure by 22% ± 5% (measured at the middle of the handgrip task), and ocular perfusion pressure by 25% ± 6% (averaged across the entire handgrip task) (P < 0.01), but did not change intraocular pressure, arterial oxygen saturation, end-tidal CO2, and respiration rate (P > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS. This study demonstrates a novel MRI application to image quantitative BF of the human retina/choroid during rest and isometric exercise. Retina/choroid BF increases during brief handgrip exercise, paralleling increases in mean arterial pressure. Handgrip exercise changes ocular perfusion pressure free of potential drug side effect and can be done in the MRI scanner. MRI offers quantitative BF with large field of view without depth limitation, potentially providing insights into retinal pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4299-4305
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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