Effects of lung volume, bronchoconstriction, and cigarette smoke on morphometric airway dimensions

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1988 Mar;64(3):913-9. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1988.64.3.913.


To examine the role of airway wall thickening in the bronchial hyperresponsiveness observed after exposure to cigarette smoke, we compared the airway dimensions of guinea pigs exposed to smoke (n = 7) or air (n = 7). After exposure the animals were anesthetized with urethan, pulmonary resistance was measured, and the lungs were removed, distended with Formalin, and fixed near functional residual capacity. The effects of lung inflation and bronchoconstriction on airway dimensions were studied separately by distending and fixing lungs with Formalin at total lung capacity (TLC) (n = 3), 50% TLC (n = 3), and 25% TLC (n = 3) or near residual volume after bronchoconstriction (n = 3). On transverse sections of extraparenchymal and intraparenchymal airways the following dimensions were measured: the internal area (Ai) and internal perimeter (Pi), defined by the epithelium, and the external area (Ae) and external perimeter (Pe), defined by the outer border of smooth muscle. Airway wall area (WA) was then calculated, WA = Ae - Ai. Ai, Pe, and Ae decreased with decreasing lung volume and after bronchoconstriction. However, WA and Pi did not change significantly with lung volume or after bronchoconstriction. After cigarette smoke exposure airway resistance was increased (P less than 0.05); however, there was no difference in WA between the smoke- and air-exposed groups when the airways were matched by Pi. We conclude that Pi and WA are constant despite changes in lung volume and smooth muscle tone and that airway hyperresponsiveness induced by cigarette smoke is not mediated by increased airway wall thickness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Airway Resistance
  • Animals
  • Bronchi / pathology*
  • Bronchi / physiopathology
  • Constriction, Pathologic
  • Functional Residual Capacity
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Compliance
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology
  • Residual Volume
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Total Lung Capacity
  • Trachea / pathology*
  • Trachea / physiopathology


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution