Requirements and limitations of imaging airway smooth muscle throughout the lung in vivo

Michael J. Hackmann, John G. Elliot, Francis H.Y. Green, Alvenia Cairncross, Barry Cense, Robert A. McLaughlin, David Langton, Alan L. James, Peter B. Noble, Graham M. Donovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Clinical visualization and quantification of the amount and distribution of airway smooth muscle (ASM) in the lungs of individuals with asthma has major implications for our understanding of airway wall remodeling as well as treatments targeted at the ASM. This paper theoretically investigates the feasibility of quantifying airway wall thickness (focusing on the ASM) throughout the lung in vivo by means of bronchoscopic polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT). Using extensive human biobank data from subjects with and without asthma in conjunction with a mathematical model of airway compliance, we define constraints that airways of various sizes pose to any endoscopic imaging technique and how this is impacted by physiologically relevant processes such as constriction, inflation and deflation. We identify critical PS-OCT system parameters and pinpoint parts of the airway tree that are conducive to successful quantification of ASM. We further quantify the impact of breathing and ASM contraction on the measurement error and recommend strategies for standardization and normalization

Original languageEnglish
Article number103884
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


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