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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Jun;88(6):2260-8.

A three-dimensional model of the human pulmonary acinus.

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Division of Functional Diagnostic Imaging, Osaka University Medical School, Suita City, Japan.


A three-dimensional (3-D) model of the human pulmonary acinus, a gas exchange unit, is constructed with a labyrinthine algorithm generating branching ducts that fill a given space completely. Branching down to the third respiratory bronchioles is generated with the proposed algorithm. A subacinus, a region supplied by the last respiratory bronchiole, is approximated to be a set of cubic cells with a side dimension of 0.5 mm. The labyrinthine algorithm is used to determine a pathway through all cells only once, except at branching points with the smallest path lengths. In choosing each step of a pathway, random variables are used. Resulting labyrinths have equal mean path lengths and equal surface areas of inner walls. An alveolus can be generated by attaching alveolar septa, 0.25 mm long and 0.1 mm wide, to the inner walls. Total alveolar surface area and numbers of alveolar ducts, alveolar sacs, and alveoli in our 3-D acinar model are in good accordance with those reported in the literature.

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