Role of alveolar recruitment in lung inflation: Influence on pressure-volume hysteresis

G. C. Smaldone, W. Mitzner, H. Itoh

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63 Scopus citations


The behavior of terminal lung units (alveoli) with changes in lung volume is controversial. For example, different investigators using similar techniques have suggested that alveoli expand homogeneously or, conversely, get smaller with increases in lung volume. We studied this problem by filling excised dog lobes with monodisperse aerosol and observing deposition at zero airflow. Under these conditions, the deposition of particles is inversely proportional to a mean alveolar linear dimension (ALD). With this technique, changes in ALD were assessed as the lung ventilated along its pressure-volume (PV) curve. PV curves were generated using a rapid cycling technique that minimized trapping and allowed reversible regulation of inflation-deflation hysteresis. Irreversible changes in PV hysteresis were assessed by rinsing the lung with Tween. With significant PV hysteresis, the ALD progressively decreased with inflation to total lung capacity (TLC). With deflation from TLC, the ALD was unchanged until low volumes were reached, when it decreased markedly. When PV hysteresis was minimized (reversibly or irreversibly), inflation and deflation ALD were superimposed. These data are consistent with progressive alveolar recruitment with inflation to TLC and derecruitment with deflation. The correlation between alveolar dimensions and PV hysteresis suggests that shifts in the PV curve can be accounted for by changes in the population of units. The number open at any given point is determined by the dynamic history of inflation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1321-1332
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology


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