Airway remodeling in the smoke exposed guinea pig model

Inhal Toxicol. 2007 Sep;19(11):915-23. doi: 10.1080/08958370701515563.


Although small airway remodeling (SAR) leading to airflow obstruction is a common consequence of human cigarette smoking, the airways have been largely ignored in animal models of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We examined lung structure in a guinea pig model of chronic cigarette smoke exposure to ascertain whether smoke induced SAR, and to evaluate how these anatomic lesions correlate with physiologic changes. We used tissue from guinea pigs exposed to cigarette smoke or air for 6 mo. Pulmonary function tests were performed, and histologic sections were prepared. Airspace size (Lm) and changes in the structure of the small airways were evaluated by morphometric analysis. Chronic smoke exposure was associated with increased airway wall thickness and increased amounts of thick collagen fibers in the walls of the small airways, as well as with increased Lm. The increase in thick collagen fibers related negatively to peak expiratory volume (PEF) and the ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 s to forced ventilatory capacity (FEV(0.1)/FVC), and positively to airway resistance. Physiologic lung volumes were predicted by airspace size, but residual volume (RV) and total lung capacity (TLC) also were related to airway wall thickness. Amounts of smooth muscle were not changed and did not predict any physiologic abnormalities. We conclude that cigarette smoke exposure results in SAR in the guinea pig, alterations that are reflected in increased airways resistance with diminished airflow and air trapping, mimicking human disease. This model should prove useful in further investigations into the mechanisms of airway remodeling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Respiratory Mucosa / pathology*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / pathology*
  • Smoking / physiopathology