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J Aerosol Med. 2004 Fall;17(3):213-24.

Modeling age-related particle deposition in humans.

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CIIT Centers for Health Research, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709-2137, USA.


Inhalation of airborne material poses a potential health risk to various subpopulations one of which is children. Little is known about the fate of particles in the respiratory tracts of children. Modeling efforts have been limited due largely to the lack of adequate information on lung geometry during growth. Lung morphometry measurements in children and adults between 3 months and 21 years of age were used to create 5-lobe lung geometries. Each lobe had a dichotomous, symmetric branching structure and was structurally different from the other lobes. The lung geometries were used in a multiple-path particle deposition model to calculate particle deposition fractions in different regions, lobes and airway generations of the lungs. Simulated breathing patterns were representative of resting breathing. Age-dependent, semi-empirical expressions of particles losses in the nasal airways, which were based on fits to the available experimental measurements, showed larger nasal deposition in adults than in children. Predicted tracheobronchial deposition patterns were similar among different ages for a given particle size. In the alveolar region, the predicted deposition fraction varied with age such that a clear trend could not be identified. Deposition fraction in a lobe was proportional to the volume of air going to that lobe. Deposition fractions in the lower left and right lobes were similar but higher than those in the other lobes for a given particle diameter. Lobar deposition fraction adjusted for lobar lung volume or lung deposition fraction adjusted for lung volume was found to be a unique property for an individual and presented a means for age-dependent deposition comparisons. The adjusted tracheobronchial and pulmonary deposition fractions were greatest for infants and decreased with age. A similar trend was also observed for deposition fraction per unit area as a function of airway generation. The distribution of particle deposition fraction per unit surface area varied with particle size for an individual, with ultrafine particles being more uniformly distributed throughout the lungs and coarse particles depositing primarily in the first few tracheobronchial airways. The trend of particle deposition with age indicates that children, particularly infants, may be at a greater health risk from exposure to airborne particulate matter and noxious materials all other conditions being equal. The age-dependent predicted deposition fraction pattern per unit area of different size particles has implications in the calculation of inhaled reference concentrations as well as site-specific delivery of drugs and other therapeutic compounds to the lungs of patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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