Measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF) show large variability among healthy subjects. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relative effect of established factors influencing CBF on the variability of resting CBF. We retrospectively analyzed spontaneous variability in 430 CBF measurements acquired in 152 healthy, young subjects using (133)Xe single-photon emission computed tomography. Cerebral blood flow was correlated positively with both end-tidal expiratory PCO2 (PETCO2) and female gender and inversely with hematocrit (Hct). Between- and within-subject CO2 reactivity was not significantly different. Including PETCO2, Hct and gender in the model reduced between-subject and within-subject variance by 14% and 13.5%, respectively. Within-subject variability was mainly influenced by PETCO2 and between-subject variability mostly by Hct, whereas gender appeared to be of little added value when Hct was also accounted for. The present study confirms large between-subject variability in CBF measurements and that gender, Hct, and PETCO2 explain only a small part of this variability. This implies that a large fraction of CBF variability may be due to unknown factors such as differences in neuron density or metabolism that could be subject for further studies.
Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 2013, Vol 33, Issue 5, p. 787-92