Indexed on: 19 Jun '13Published on: 19 Jun '13Published in: Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology
To estimate the influence of parenchymal heterogeneities on airway-parenchymal interdependence, we considered a circular airway embedded within elastic parenchyma modeled as (1) a hexagonal spring network, (2) a triangular spring network, or (3) a continuum. The deformation in the parenchyma due to active airway contraction was simulated using the finite element method. Random perturbations of elastic moduli in the parenchyma did not significantly affect the overall pattern of force transmission. By contrast, when elastic moduli were increased along a path projecting radially outward from the airway, the hexagonal spring network model predicted significantly increased force along this line as the airway contracted, but this was not observed in other two models. These results indicate that tissue heterogeneities generally have minimal effect on the global nature of airway-parenchymal interdependence. However, in the exceptional circumstance of scar tissue aligned radially from the airway wall, parenchymal distortion forces may propagate much farther from the airway wall than was previously thought.