Quantitative imaging assessment of blood-brain barrier permeability in humans

Yoash Chassidim, Ronel Veksler, Svetlana Lublinsky, Gaby S. Pell, Alon Friedman, Ilan Shelef

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a functional and structural barrier separating the intravascular and neuropil compartments of the brain. It characterizes the vascular bed and is essential for normal brain functions. Dysfunction in the BBB properties have been described in most common neurological disorders, such as stroke, traumatic injuries, intracerebral hemorrhage, tumors, epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders. It is now obvious that the BBB plays an important role in normal brain activity, stressing the need for applicable imaging and assessment methods. Recent advancements in imaging techniques now make it possible to establish sensitive and quantitative methods for the assessment of BBB permeability. However, most of the existing techniques require complicated and demanding dynamic scanning protocols that are impractical and cannot be fulfilled in some cases. We review existing methods for the evaluation of BBB permeability, focusing on quantitative magnetic resonance-based approaches and discuss their drawbacks and limitations. In light of those limitations we propose two new approaches for BBB assessment with less demanding imaging sequences: the " post-pre" and the " linear dynamic" methods, both allow semi-quantitative permeability assessment and localization of dysfunctional BBB with simple/partial dynamic imaging protocols and easy-to-apply analysis algorithms. We present preliminary results and show an example which compares these new methods with the existing standard assessment method. We strongly believe that the establishment of such " easy to use" and reliable imaging methods is essential before BBB assessment can become a routine clinical tool. Large clinical trials are awaited to fully understand the significance of BBB permeability as a biomarker and target for treatment in neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2013


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Brain insult
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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