In many mammalian species, the removal of one lung [pneumonectomy (PNX)] is associated with the compensatory growth of the remaining lung. To investigate the hypothesis that parenchymal deformation may trigger lung regeneration, we used respiratory-gated micro-computed tomography scanning to create three-dimensional finite-element geometric models of the murine cardiac lobe with cyclic breathing. Models were constructed of respiratory-gated micro-computed tomography scans pre-PNX and 24 h post-PNX. The computational models demonstrated that the maximum stretch ratio map was patchy and heterogeneous, particularly in subpleural, juxta-diaphragmatic, and cephalad regions of the lobe. In these parenchymal regions, the material line segments at peak inspiration were frequently two- to fourfold greater after PNX; some regions of the post-PNX cardiac lobe demonstrated parenchymal compression at peak inspiration. Similarly, analyses of parenchymal maximum shear strain demonstrated heterogeneous regions of mechanical stress with focal regions demonstrating a threefold increase in shear strain after PNX. Consistent with previously identified growth patterns, these subpleural regions of enhanced stretch and shear strain are compatible with a mechanical signal, likely involving cyclic parenchymal stretch, triggering lung growth.
Keywords: finite element; image registration; lung; pneumonectomy; regeneration.