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Your Environment. Your Health.

New Model Simulates Lung Function in Mice

Debra Laskin, Ph.D., Andrew Gow, Ph.D.
Rutgers University
R01ES004738, P30ES005022, T32ES007148

A new computer-based mouse lung model, developed by NIEHS-funded researchers, simulates how changes in lung structure affect respiratory function. The model is intended to provide a simpler way to measure the relative importance of lung structure changes resulting from different factors, including exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Chronic inflammation, which is often found in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can alter lung structure and impact breathing. The researchers examined lung tissue and function in healthy mice and in mice that mimicked conditions seen in people with emphysema, a type of COPD. They developed the new model of lung function that analyzes air flow and throat pressure data, as well as the relationship between these data and other lung changes.

Using this model, the researchers compared how lung function was affected by factors associated with chronic inflammation. These factors included lung tissue destruction, changes in the density of elastic fiber structures that help the lung walls stretch and contract during breathing, and changes in lung recruitment, which refers to increased pressure to keep lung regions open that might otherwise collapse.

Modeling results suggested that changes in lung recruitment and elastic fiber density were primarily responsible for observed decreases in lung function associated with chronic inflammatory disease in the mice.

Citation: Massa CB, Groves AM, Jaggernauth SU, Laskin DL, Gow AJ. 2017. Histologic and biochemical alterations predict pulmonary mechanical dysfunction in aging mice with chronic lung inflammation. PloS Comput Biol 13(8):e1005570.

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