The distribution of ventilation during bronchoconstriction is patchy and bimodal: a PET imaging study

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2005 Aug 25;148(1-2):57-64. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2005.05.023.


Recent PET imaging data from bronchoconstricted sheep (Vidal Melo et al., 2005) showed that V /Q distributions were bimodal and topographically patchy, but including a substantial heterogeneity at scales <2.2 ml. In this paper, we reanalyze the experimental data to establish the contribution of ventilation (V (r)) heterogeneity to the bimodality in V /Q . This analysis demonstrates that the distribution of V (r) during bronchoconstriction was bimodal with large patches of severe hypoventilation occupying an average of 41% of the imaged lung. The degree of hypoventilation to these regions was highly correlated with the degree of oxygenation impairment, but was quite variable amongst animals in spite of consistent degrees of mechanical obstruction. Remarkably, those regions were found to be hyperventilated before methacholine and their degree of hyperventilation was correlated with their degree of hypoventilation during bronchoconstriction. These data suggest that improving the uniformity of ventilation at baseline may be a desirable therapeutic target if the risk of severe hypoxemia during asthma attacks is to be minimized and/or the distribution of inhaled pharmaceuticals is to be optimized.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchoconstriction / physiology*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Respiration*
  • Sheep