Airway-parenchymal interdependence

Peter D. Paré, Wayne Mitzner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In this article, we discuss the interaction of the lung parenchyma and the airways as well as the physiological and pathophysiological significance of this interaction. These two components of the respiratory organ can be thought of as two independent elastic structures but in fact the mechanical properties of one influence the behavior of the other. Traditionally, the interaction has focused on the effects of the lung on the airways but there is good evidence that the opposite is also true, that is, that the mechanical properties of the airways influence the elastic properties of the parenchyma. The interplay between components of the respiratory system including the airways, parenchyma, and vasculature is often referred to as "interdependence." This interdependence transmits the elastic recoil of the lung to create an effective pressure that dilates the airways as transpulmonary pressure and lung volume increase. By using a continuum mechanics analysis of the lung parenchyma, it is possible to predict the effective pressure between the airways and parenchyma, and these predictions can be empirically evaluated. Normal airway caliber is maintained by this pressure in the adventitial interstitium of the airway, and it attenuates the ability of airway smooth muscle to narrow airways. Interdependence has physiological and pathophysiological significance. Weakening of the forces of interdependence contributes to airway dysfunction and gas exchange impairment in acute and chronic airway diseases including asthma and emphysema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1921-1935
Number of pages15
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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