Multimodal randomized Functional MR imaging of the effects of Methylene Blue in the human Brain
A new treatment for short-term memory loss? Or radiological gadgetry?
The institutional review board approved this prospective, HIPAA-compliant, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial, and all patients provided informed consent. Twenty-six subjects (age range, 22–62 years) were enrolled. Functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed with a psychomotor vigilance task (sustained attention) and delayed match-to-sample tasks (short-term memory) before and 1 hour after administration of low-dose methylene blue or a placebo. Cerebrovascular reactivity effects were also measured with the carbon dioxide challenge, in which a 2 × 2 repeated-measures analysis of variance was performed with a drug (methylene blue vs placebo) and time (before vs after administration of the drug) as factors to assess drug × time between group interactions. Multiple comparison correction was applied, with cluster-corrected P < .05 indicating a significant difference.
Administration of methylene blue increased response in the bilateral insular cortex during a psychomotor vigilance task (Z = 2.9–3.4, P= .01–.008) and functional MR imaging response during a short-term memory task involving the prefrontal, parietal, and occipital cortex (Z = 2.9–4.2, P = .03–.0003). Methylene blue was also associated with a 7% increase in correct responses during memory retrieval (P = .01).
Low-dose methylene blue can increase functional MR imaging activity during sustained attention and short-term memory tasks and enhance memory retrieval.