Temporal complexity in clinical manifestations of lung disease

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Jun;110(6):1723-31. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01297.2010. Epub 2011 Feb 3.


In this review, we summarize results of recent research on the temporal variability of lung function, symptoms, and inflammatory biomarkers. Specifically, we demonstrate how fluctuation analysis borrowed from statistical physics can be used to gain insight into neurorespiratory control and complex chronic dynamic diseases such as asthma viewed as a system of interacting components (e.g., inflammatory, immunological, and mechanical). Fluctuation analysis tools are based on quantifying the distribution and the short- and long-term temporal history of tidal breathing and lung function parameters to assess neurorespiratory control and monitor chronic disease. The latter includes the assessment of severity and disease control, the impact of treatment and environmental triggers, the temporal characterization of disease phenotypes, and the individual risk of exacerbation. While in many cases specific mechanistic insight into the fluctuations still awaits further research, appropriate analyses of the fluctuations already impact on clinical science and practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Progression
  • Fractals
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lung Diseases* / immunology
  • Lung Diseases* / pathology
  • Lung Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases* / therapy
  • Lung* / immunology
  • Lung* / pathology
  • Lung* / physiopathology
  • Periodicity*
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Respiration*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Systems Biology*
  • Systems Integration
  • Time Factors


  • Inflammation Mediators