Alveolar dynamics during respiration: are the pores of Kohn a pathway to recruitment?

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2008 May;38(5):572-8. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2007-0120OC. Epub 2007 Dec 20.


The change in alveolar size and number during the full breathing cycle in mammals remains unanswered, yet these descriptors are fundamental for understanding alveolar-based diseases and for improving ventilator management. Genetic and environmental mouse models are used increasingly to evaluate the evolution of disease in the peripheral lung; however, little is known regarding alveolar structure and function in the fresh, intact lung. Therefore, we have developed an optical confocal process to evaluate alveolar dynamics in the fresh intact mouse lung and as an initial experiment, have evaluated mouse alveolar dynamics during a single respiratory cycle immediately after passive lung deflation. We observe that alveoli become smaller and more numerous at the end of inspiration, and propose that this is direct evidence for alveolar recruitment in the mouse lung. The findings reported support a new hypothesis that requires recruitable secondary (daughter) alveoli to inflate via primary (mother) alveoli rather than from a conducting airway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Catheterization
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Pleura / anatomy & histology
  • Pleura / physiology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / anatomy & histology*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / physiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Tidal Volume / physiology