Morphological evidence for alveolar recruitment during inflation at high transpulmonary pressure

H. Lum, I. Huang, W. Mitzner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The effect of continuous inflation of lungs at 30 cmH2O transpulmonary pressure (Ptp) on air-space size was assessed by chord length-frequency distribution analysis. Lungs from gerbils were excised, allowed to collapse freely, and inflated to 30 cmH2O Ptp in a humidified chamber kept at 37°C. When the lungs appeared fully inflated with no observable pleural surface atelectasis, the left lung was occluded while the right was maintained at 30 cmH2O for 10 min longer and then occluded. During this time, the right lung increased its volume from 70 to 100%. Then both lungs were quick frozen, freeze dried, and embedded in glycol methacrylate, and 1- to 2-μm-thick histological sections cut. Lungs from a control group of gerbils were similarly inflated to 30 cmH2O, both left and right were occluded, the left was quick frozen immediately, and the right was frozen 10 min later. Chord lengths of air spaces from cranial and caudal lobes of lungs were acquired using a Dapple Systems image analyzer, and a two-population frequency distribution was generated for analysis with an IBM PC. The results indicate that the volume increase during continuous inflation at 30 cmH2O Ptp was associated with a shift in the chord length distribution toward the smaller chord lengths. A two-population statistical analysis indicated that the inflation resulted in an increase in the relative proportion of smaller chord lengths, with no increase in the mean of this smaller population. We conclude that continuous inflation at 30 cmH2O Ptp results in alveolar recruitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2280-2286
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • alveolar size
  • alveoli
  • chord length
  • gerbil
  • lung
  • mean linear intercept
  • volume creep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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