Effect of a deep breath on gas mixing and diffusion in the lung

Respir Physiol. 1990 Mar;79(3):195-204. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(90)90126-j.


We examined the effect of a previous deep breath on both inert gas mixing and the single breath diffusing capacity (DLCOSB) during submaximal single breath maneuvers in normal subjects. Single breath washouts were performed either immediately after a deep breath or after breathing tidally for 10 min. Maneuvers consisted of inhaling test gas from functional residual capacity to 50% inspiratory capacity and, after either 0 or 6 s of breath holding, exhaling slowly back to residual volume. We measured the Fowler dead space, the Phase III slope of the alveolar plateau of the He washout (delta He/L), the amplitude of the cardiogenic oscillations (Oc), closing capacity, mixing efficiency (Emix) and DLCOSB using the three equation method. For maneuvers immediately after a deep breath we found that delta He/L was steeper and the Oc were larger for washouts with 6 s but not 0 s of breath holding, while Emix was significantly lower and DLCOSB significantly higher for both the 0 s and the 6 s breath holding maneuvers. We conclude that a deep breath increases DLCOSB but simultaneously also increases convective-dependent inhomogeneity in the lung.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Breath Tests
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Carbon Monoxide / pharmacokinetics
  • Diffusion
  • Female
  • Gases / metabolism*
  • Gases / pharmacokinetics
  • Helium / metabolism
  • Helium / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Nitrogen / pharmacokinetics
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxygen / pharmacokinetics
  • Respiration / physiology*
  • Vital Capacity / physiology


  • Gases
  • Helium
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen