Comput. Biol. Med. - A computational study of the respiratory airflow characteristics in normal and obstructed human airways.


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Obstructive lung diseases in the lower airways are a leading health concern worldwide. To improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of lower airways, we studied airflow characteristics in the lung between the 8th and the 14th generations using a three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics model, where we compared normal and obstructed airways for a range of breathing conditions. We employed a novel technique based on computing the Pearsons correlation coefficient to quantitatively characterize the differences in airflow patterns between the normal and obstructed airways. We found that the airflow patterns demonstrated clear differences between normal and diseased conditions for high expiratory flow rates (>2300ml/s), but not for inspiratory flow rates. Moreover, airflow patterns subjected to filtering demonstrated higher sensitivity than airway resistance for differentiating normal and diseased conditions. Further, we showed that wall shear stresses were not only dependent on breathing rates, but also on the distribution of the obstructed sites in the lung: for the same degree of obstruction and breathing rate, we observed as much as two-fold differences in shear stresses. In contrast to previous studies that suggest increased wall shear stress due to obstructions as a possible damage mechanism for small airways, our model demonstrated that for flow rates corresponding to heavy activities, the wall shear stress in both normal and obstructed airways was <0.3Pa, which is within the physiological limit needed to promote respiratory defense mechanisms. In summary, our model enables the study of airflow characteristics that may be impractical to assess experimentally.

Resumo Limpo

obstruct lung diseas lower airway lead health concern worldwid improv understand pathophysiolog lower airway studi airflow characterist lung th th generat use threedimension comput fluid dynam model compar normal obstruct airway rang breath condit employ novel techniqu base comput pearson correl coeffici quantit character differ airflow pattern normal obstruct airway found airflow pattern demonstr clear differ normal diseas condit high expiratori flow rate mls inspiratori flow rate moreov airflow pattern subject filter demonstr higher sensit airway resist differenti normal diseas condit show wall shear stress depend breath rate also distribut obstruct site lung degre obstruct breath rate observ much twofold differ shear stress contrast previous studi suggest increas wall shear stress due obstruct possibl damag mechan small airway model demonstr flow rate correspond heavi activ wall shear stress normal obstruct airway pa within physiolog limit need promot respiratori defens mechan summari model enabl studi airflow characterist may impract assess experiment

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