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PURPOSE: To evaluate whether the BOLD signal from skeletal muscle can be modulated by exercise and ingestion of vasoactive substances. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The right calf muscles of healthy adult volunteers were imaged using a GE 1.5-Tesla scanner and a gradient-echo sequence with spiral readout. Time-varying changes in the BOLD signal were induced through cyclic phases of normoxia (90 seconds of 20.8% O2) and hyperoxia (45 seconds of 100% O2 at 22 L/minute). Superimposed on this paradigm were pre- and post-exercise regimes, with and without ingestion of caffeine (100 mg) or antihistamine (4 mg chlorpheniramine). The numbers of voxels within slow-twitch (soleus) and fast-twitch (gastrocnemius) muscles that significantly responded to the paradigms were scored and compared using the AFNI software (NIMH). RESULTS: Cycling-inspired O2 produced a corresponding BOLD modulation that increased in magnitude with exercise. Chlorpheniramine significantly (P<0.01) prevented the overall increase in exercise-induced soleus muscle BOLD signal, while caffeine accentuated the increase (P<0.05) in the gastrocnemius relative to control (no vasomodulator) conditions. CONCLUSION: BOLD signal changes with exercise can be modulated by standard doses of chlorpheniramine (antihistamine) and caffeine. We suggest that chlorpheniramine may act detrimentally on slow-twitch muscle contractility, while caffeine appears to improve fast-twitch muscle function.

Original publication




Journal article


J Magn Reson Imaging

Publication Date





886 - 890


Adult, Blood Flow Velocity, Caffeine, Chlorpheniramine, Exercise, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Leg, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Muscle, Skeletal, Oxygen, Regional Blood Flow