Altered task-induced cerebral blood flow and oxygen metabolism underlies motor impairment in multiple sclerosis

Kathryn L. West, Dinesh K. Sivakolundu, Mark D. Zuppichini, Monroe P. Turner, Jeffrey S Spence, Hanzhang Lu, Darin T. Okuda, Bart Rypma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The neural mechanisms underlying motor impairment in multiple sclerosis (MS) remain unknown. Motor cortex dysfunction is implicated in blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, but the role of neural–vascular coupling underlying BOLD changes remains unknown. We sought to independently measure the physiologic factors (i.e., cerebral blood flow (ΔCBF), cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (ΔCMRO2), and flow–metabolism coupling (ΔCBF/ΔCMRO2), utilizing dual-echo calibrated fMRI (cfMRI) during a bilateral finger-tapping task. We utilized cfMRI to measure physiologic responses in 17 healthy volunteers and 32 MS patients (MSP) with and without motor impairment during a thumb-button-press task in thumb-related (task-central) and surrounding primary motor cortex (task-surround) regions of interest (ROIs). We observed significant ΔCBF and ΔCMRO2 increases in all MSP compared to healthy volunteers in the task-central ROI and increased flow–metabolism coupling (ΔCBF/ΔCMRO2) in the MSP without motor impairment. In the task-surround ROI, we observed decreases in ΔCBF and ΔCMRO2 in MSP with motor impairment. Additionally, ΔCBF and ΔCMRO2 responses in the task-surround ROI were associated with motor function and white matter damage in MSP. These results suggest an important role for task-surround recruitment in the primary motor cortex to maintain motor dexterity and its dependence on intact white matter microstructure and neural–vascular coupling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-193
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Cerebrovascular circulation
  • energy metabolism
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • motor skills
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neural–vascular coupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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