Brain-wide pathway for waste clearance captured by contrast-enhanced MRI

By Nujbat Meraji

MRI Brain scan

In the past year, it was estimated that 5.2 million Americans were suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that causes memory, thinking and behavioral issues and currently has no cure. A research team at Stony Brook University, led by Helene Benveniste, M.D., Ph.D., Professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Radiology, are using imaging technique to study how brain waste can be monitored and even cleared. The research has been revised and was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation on December 3, 2013.

The glymphatic pathway of the brain is where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial fluid (ISF) are exchanged to clear out solutes and waste from the brain. When this exchange is not carried out properly, the channels inside the pathway may be malfunctioning. Accumulation of the waste can be an indication of the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. This CSF-ISF exchange can be monitored with a three-dimensional imaging technique, “contrast-enhanced MRI.”

Through the contrast-enhanced MRI technique, the brain’s entire glymphatic pathway can be mapped out so that the exchange of the CSF-ISF can be visualized. This is then used to assess the rate at which the pathway is working. Having the ability to assess the brain’s functionality through contrast-enhanced MRI allows the researchers to maintain the efficiency of the glymphatic pathway. The researchers have suggested that the rate of the pathway can help determine disease susceptibility or progression in the brain. The team is currently investigating ways to repair malfunctioning channels, since there is still no solution to that yet.




“Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association.” Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.

Iliff, Jeffrey J., et al. “Brain-Wide Pathway For Waste Clearance Captured By Contrast-Enhanced MRI.” Journal Of Clinical Investigation 123.3 (2013): 1299-1309. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

Lijun, Yang, et al. “Evaluating Glymphatic Pathway Function Utilizing Clinically Relevant Intrathecal Infusion Of CSF Tracer.” Journal Of Translational Medicine 11.1 (2013): 1-9. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

Scientists Find Way to Image Brain Waste Removal Process Which May Lead to Alzheimer’s Diagnostic – See more at:

Youtube video: Capturing the Brain-Wide Pathway for Waste Clearance by Contrast MRI


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