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Comput Math Methods Med. 2018 Sep 25;2018:3649391. doi: 10.1155/2018/3649391. eCollection 2018.

Airflow and Particle Deposition in Acinar Models with Interalveolar Septal Walls and Different Alveolar Numbers.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, California Baptist University, Riverside, CA 92504, USA.
Department of Aerospace, Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering, California Baptist University, Riverside, CA 92504, USA.
School of Engineering and Technology, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858, USA.
Department of Nuclear Engineering, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


Unique features exist in acinar units such as multiple alveoli, interalveolar septal walls, and pores of Kohn. However, the effects of such features on airflow and particle deposition remain not well quantified due to their structural complexity. This study aims to numerically investigate particle dynamics in acinar models with interalveolar septal walls and pores of Kohn. A simplified 4-alveoli model with well-defined geometries and a physiologically realistic 45-alveoli model was developed. A well-validated Lagrangian tracking model was used to simulate particle trajectories in the acinar models with rhythmically expanding and contracting wall motions. Both spatial and temporal dosimetries in the acinar models were analyzed. Results show that collateral ventilation exists among alveoli due to pressure imbalance. The size of interalveolar septal aperture significantly alters the spatial deposition pattern, while it has an insignificant effect on the total deposition rate. Surprisingly, the deposition rate in the 45-alveoli model is lower than that in the 4-alveoli model, indicating a stronger particle dispersion in more complex models. The gravity orientation angle has a decreasing effect on acinar deposition rates with an increasing number of alveoli retained in the model; such an effect is nearly negligible in the 45-alveoli model. Breath-holding increased particle deposition in the acinar region, which was most significant in the alveoli proximal to the duct. Increasing inhalation depth only slightly increases the fraction of deposited particles over particles entering the alveolar model but has a large influence on dispensing particles to the peripheral alveoli. Results of this study indicate that an empirical correlation for acinar deposition can be developed based on alveolar models with reduced complexity; however, what level of geometry complexity would be sufficient is yet to be determined.

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