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This article is the author's final published version in NeuroImage: Clinical, Volume 43, 2024, Article number 103629.

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Copyright © 2024 The Author(s)


Background and purpose: While mechanical thrombectomy (MT) achieves restoration of cerebral blood flow to the area at risk in patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS), the influx of blood flow may exacerbate the blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption and extravasation across the BBB, and it therefore remains unclear how reperfusion impacts the blood-brain barrier integrity. In this study, we use diffusion-prepared pseudocontinuous ASL (DP-pCASL) and Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging (NODDI) sequence to measure the water exchange rate (kw) in patients who underwent either MT or medical management and determine its impact on the brain tissue microstructure in order to elucidate the impact of MT on BBB complex integrity.

Materials and methods: We prospectively enrolled 21 patients with AIS treated at our institution from 10/2021 to 6/2023 who underwent MR imaging at a 3.0-Tesla scanner. Patients underwent DP-pCASl and NODDI imaging in addition to the standard stroke protocol which generated cerebral blood flow (CBF), arterial transit time (ATT), water exchange rate (kw), orientation dispersion index (ODI), intracellular volume fraction (ICVF), and free water fraction (FWF) parametric maps.

Results: Of the 21 patients, 11 underwent MT and 10 were treated non-operatively. The average age and NIHSS for the MT cohort and non-MT cohorts were 69.3 ± 16.6 years old and 15.0 (12.0-20.0), and 70.2 ± 10.7 (p = 0.882) and 6.0 (3.8-9.0, p = 0.003) respectively. The average CBF, ATT, and kw in the infarcted territory of the MT cohort were 38.2 (18.4-59.6), 1347.6 (1182.5-1842.3), and 107.8 (79.2-140.1) respectively. The average CBF, ATT, and kw in the stroke ROI were 16.0 (8.8-36.6, p = 0.036), 1090.8 (937.1-1258.9, p = 0.013), 89.7 (68.0-122.7, p = 0.314) respectively. Linear regression analysis showed increasing CBF (p = 0.008) and undergoing mechanical thrombectomy (p = 0.048) were significant predictors of increased kw.

Conclusion: Using our multimodal non-contrast MRI protocol, we demonstrate that increased CBF and mechanical thrombectomy increased kw, suggesting a better functioning BBB complex. Higher kw suggests less disruption of the BBB complex in the MT cohort.

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