Assessment of the dynamics of human glymphatic system by near-infrared spectroscopy

Teemu Myllylä*, Markus Harju, Vesa Korhonen, Alexander Bykov, Vesa Kiviniemi, Igor Meglinski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluctuations in brain water content has attracted increasing interest, particularly as regards studies of the glymphatic system, which is connected with the complex organization of dural lymphatic vessels, responsible for cleaning tissue. Disturbances of glymphatic circulation are associated with several brain disorders, including dementia. This article introduces an approach to noninvasive measurement of water dynamics in the human brain utilizing near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). We demonstrate the possibility to sense dynamic variations of water content between the skull and grey matter, for instance, in the subarachnoid space. Measured fluctuations in water content, especially in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), are assumed to be correlated with the dynamics of glymphatic circulation. The sampling volume for the NIRS optode was estimated by Monte Carlo modelling for the wavelengths of 660, 740, 830 and 980 nm. In addition, using combinations of these wavelengths, this article presents the calculation models for quantifying water and haemodynamics. The presented NIRS technique allows long-term functional brain monitoring, including sleeping time. Furthermore, it is used in combination with different magnetic neuroimaging techniques, particularly magnetic resonance encephalography. Using the combined setup, we report the preliminary results on the interaction between CSF and blood oxygen level-dependent fluctuations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere201700123
JournalJournal of Biophotonics
Issue number8
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2018


  • brain
  • CSF
  • glymphatic system
  • lymph
  • MRI
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy
  • NIRS


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