Oscillation mechanics of the human lung periphery in asthma

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Nov;97(5):1849-58. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00300.2004. Epub 2004 Jun 25.


To more precisely measure the mechanical properties of the lung periphery in asthma, we have developed a forced oscillation technique that applies a broad-band flow signal through a wedged bronchoscope. We interpreted the data from four healthy and eight mildly asthmatic subjects in terms of an anatomically accurate computer model of the wedged segment. There was substantial overlap in impedance between the two groups, with resistance (R) showing minimal frequency dependence and elastance (E) showing positive and negative frequency dependence across subjects. After direct instillation of methacholine, R rose in both groups, but compared with healthy subjects, the asthmatic subjects displayed upward, parallel shifts in their dose-response curves. The baseline frequency-response patterns of E were enhanced after methacholine. Frequency dependencies of R and E were well reproduced in two normal subjects by a computational model that employed rigid airways connected to constant-phase tissue units but were better reproduced in the other two normal and three asthmatic subjects when the model employed heterogeneous, peripheral airway narrowing and compliant airways. To capture the frequency dependencies of R and E in the remaining five asthmatic subjects, the model was modified by increasing airway wall stiffness. These results indicate that the lung periphery of mildly asthmatic subjects is not well distinguished from that of healthy subjects by measurement of mechanical impedance at baseline, but group differences are seen after challenge with methacholine. Modeling of the response suggests that variable contributions of airway narrowing and wall compliance are operative in determining overall mechanical impedance of the lung periphery in humans with asthma, likely reflecting the functional consequences of airway inflammation and remodeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology
  • Bronchoscopy / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Compliance
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Methacholine Chloride / pharmacology
  • Models, Biological
  • Respiratory Mechanics*


  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents
  • Methacholine Chloride