Airway Transmural Pressures in an Airway Tree During Bronchoconstriction in Asthma

J Eng Sci Med Diagn Ther. 2019 Feb;2(1):0110051-110056. doi: 10.1115/1.4042478. Epub 2019 Feb 13.


Airway transmural pressure in healthy homogeneous lungs with dilated airways is approximately equal to the difference between intraluminal and pleural pressure. However, bronchoconstriction causes airway narrowing, parenchymal distortion, dynamic hyperinflation, and the emergence of ventilation defects (VDefs) affecting transmural pressure. This study aimed to investigate the changes in transmural pressure caused by bronchoconstriction in a bronchial tree. Transmural pressures before and during bronchoconstriction were estimated using an integrative computational model of bronchoconstriction. Briefly, this model incorporates a 12-generation symmetric bronchial tree, and the Anafi and Wilson model for the individual airways of the tree. Bronchoconstriction lead to the emergence of VDefs and a relative increase in peak transmural pressures of up to 84% compared to baseline. The highest increase in peak transmural pressure occurred in a central airway outside of VDefs, and the lowest increase was 27% in an airway within VDefs illustrating the heterogeneity in peak transmural pressures within a bronchial tree. Mechanisms contributing to the increase in peak transmural pressures include increased regional ventilation and dynamic hyperinflation both leading to increased alveolar pressures compared to baseline. Pressure differences between intraluminal and alveolar pressure increased driven by the increased airway resistance and its contribution to total transmural pressure reached up to 24%. In conclusion, peak transmural pressure in lungs with VDefs during bronchoconstriction can be substantially increased compared to dilated airways in healthy homogeneous lungs and is highly heterogeneous. Further insights will depend on the experimental studies taking these conditions into account.