Physiology in an air-polluted world
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New paper: Low-level CO exposure affects BOLD fMRI response

We have a new paper out this month, titled “Low level carbon monoxide exposure affects BOLD fMRI response” in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. The full paper, open access, can be found here. He paper describes how low-level carbon monoxide inhalation in healthy non-smoking volunteers significantly dampens fMRI signal and reduces cerebrovascular reactivity. Exhaled carbon monoxide in our volunteers were increased from 3ppm to 6ppm, which the lowest level associated with smoking, and we observed no behavioural changes despite the significant impact on brain imaging measurements. The findings in this paper are important as they highlight that carbon monoxide should be considered confound in brain imaging research, which currently it is not. While it was not the focus of the work, these findings may also aid our understanding of how long-term low-level carbon monoxide exposure can cause vascular disease in humans.