In vivo measurement of lung volumes in mice

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57 Scopus citations


We describe longitudinal measurements of functional residual capacity (FRC) in breathing mice using a clinical computed tomography (CT) scanner. Lungs of anesthetized mice from the A/J and C3H/HeJ strains were scanned over a 10-s period. Using a fixed threshold for CT density, we could accurately and reproducibly obtain the amount of air in the lungs at FRC, with a 10% coefficient of variation. Total lung volume, and the fractions in left and right lungs, were measured in the two strains from 4 to 12 wk of age. Results show that in both strains the FRC increases only up to 6 wk of age and then remains stable despite a steady increase in body weight. Over this time period, FRC was consistently about 50% greater in the C3H/HeJ strain compared with the A/J strain. The C3H/HeJ strain also has a significantly smaller fraction of the total lung volume in the left lung. We conclude that accurate measurements of FRC in breathing mice can be made using a standard clinical CT scanner. This method may be useful for repeated noninvasive assessment of both structural and functional changes in the lungs of experimental and genetically manipulated mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2001


  • Computed tomography
  • Functional residual capacity
  • Lung volume distribution
  • Respiratory mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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