We visualized pulmonary acini in the core regions of the mouse lung in situ using synchrotron refraction-enhanced computed tomography (CT) and evaluated their kinematics during quasi-static inflation. This CT system (with a cube voxel of 2.8 μm) allows excellent visualization of not just the conducting airways, but also the alveolar ducts and sacs, and tracking of the acinar shape and its deformation during inflation. The kinematics of individual alveoli and alveolar clusters with a group of terminal alveoli is influenced not only by the connecting alveolar duct and alveoli, but also by the neighboring structures. Acinar volume was not a linear function of lung volume. The alveolar duct diameter changed dramatically during inflation at low pressures and remained relatively constant above an airway pressure of 8 cmH2O during inflation. The ratio of acinar surface area to acinar volume indicates that acinar distension during low-pressure inflation differed from that during inflation over a higher pressure range; in particular, acinar deformation was accordion-like during low-pressure inflation. These results indicated that the alveoli and duct expand differently as total acinar volume increases and that the alveolar duct may expand predominantly during low-pressure inflation. Our findings suggest that acinar deformation in the core regions of the lung is complex and heterogeneous.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)