Upper Airway
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David Warburton

Branching is an intrinsic property of respiratory epithelium that can be induced and modified by signals emerging from the mesenchyme. However, during stereotypic branching morphogenesis of the airway, the relatively thick upper respiratory epithelium extrudes through a mesenchymal orifice to form a new branch, whereas during alveologenesis the relatively thin lower respiratory epithelium extrudes to form sacs or bubbles. Thus, both branching morphogenesis of the upper airway and alveolarization in the lower airway seem to rely on the same fundamental physical process: epithelial extrusion through an orifice. Here I propose that it is the orientation and relative stiffness of the orifice boundary that determines the stereotypy of upper airway branching as well as the orientation of individual alveolar components of the gas exchange surface. The previously accepted dogma of the process of alveologenesis, largely based on 2D microscopy, is that alveoli arise by erection of finger-like interalveolar septae to form septal clefts that subdivide pre-existing saccules, a process for which the contractile properties of specialized alveolar myofibroblasts are necessary. Here I suggest that airway tip splitting and stereotypical side domain branching are actually conserved processes, but modified somewhat by evolution to achieve both airway tip splitting and side branching of the upper airway epithelium, as well as alveologenesis. Viewed in 3D it is clear that alveolar “septal tips” are in fact ring or purse string structures containing elastin and collagen that only appear as finger like projections in cross section. Therefore, I propose that airway branch orifices as well as alveolar mouth rings serve to delineate and stabilize the budding of both airway and alveolar epithelium, from the tips and sides of upper airways as well as from the sides and tips of alveolar ducts. Certainly, in the case of alveoli arising laterally and with radial symmetry from the sides of alveolar ducts, the mouth of each alveolus remains within the plane of the side of the ductal lumen. This suggests that the thin epithelium lining these lateral alveolar duct buds may extrude or “pop out” from the duct lumen through rings rather like soap or gum bubbles, whereas the thicker upper airway epithelium extrudes through a ring like toothpaste from a tube to form a new branch.

Kok Ren Choy ◽  
Sanghun Sin ◽  
Yubing Tong ◽  
Jayaram K. Udupa ◽  
Dirk M. Luchtenburg ◽  

Novel biomarkers of upper airway biomechanics may improve diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS). Upper airway effective compliance (EC), the slope of cross-sectional area versus pressure estimated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), correlates with apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and critical closing pressure (Pcrit). The study objectives are to develop a fast, simplified method for estimating EC using dynamic MRI and physiological measurements, and to explore the hypothesis that OSAS severity correlates with mechanical compliance during wakefulness and sleep. Five obese children with OSAS and five obese control subjects age 12-17 underwent anterior rhinomanometry, polysomnography and dynamic MRI with synchronized airflow measurement during wakefulness and sleep. Airway cross-section in retropalatal and retroglossal section images was segmented using a novel semi-automated method that uses optimized singular-value decomposition (SVD) image filtering and k-means clustering combined with morphological operations. Pressure was estimated using rhinomanometry Rohrer coefficients and flow rate, and EC calculated from the area-pressure slope during five normal breaths. Correlations between apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), EC, and cross-sectional area (CSA) change were calculated using Spearman rank correlation. The semi-automated method efficiently segmented the airway with average Dice Coefficient above 89% compared to expert manual segmentation. AHI correlated positively with EC at the retroglossal site during sleep (rs=0.74, p=0.014), and with change of EC from wake to sleep at the retroglossal site (rs=0.77, p=0.01). CSA change alone did not correlate significantly with AHI. EC, a mechanical biomarker which includes both CSA change and pressure variation, is a potential diagnostic biomarker for studying and managing OSAS.

AIP Advances ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 11 (6) ◽  
pp. 065225
Yan Shang ◽  
Bin Hu ◽  
Guoping Yin ◽  
Song Fu ◽  
Jingying Ye

Xiangqiang Duan ◽  
Meng Li ◽  
Fei Liu ◽  
Xianmin Song ◽  
Caiyun Zhang ◽  

Allergy ◽  
2021 ◽  
Purevsuren Losol ◽  
Sae‐Hoon Kim ◽  
Soyeon Ahn ◽  
Sejoon Lee ◽  
Jun‐Pyo Choi ◽  

ORL ◽  
2021 ◽  
pp. 1-8
Lifeng Li ◽  
Demin Han ◽  
Hongrui Zang ◽  
Nyall R. London

<b><i>Objective:</i></b> The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of nasal surgery on airflow characteristics in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by comparing the alterations of airflow characteristics within the nasal and palatopharyngeal cavities. <b><i>Methods:</i></b> Thirty patients with OSA and nasal obstruction who underwent nasal surgery were enrolled. A pre- and postoperative 3-dimensional model was constructed, and alterations of airflow characteristics were assessed using the method of computational fluid dynamics. The other subjective and objective clinical indices were also assessed. <b><i>Results:</i></b> By comparison with the preoperative value, all postoperative subjective symptoms statistically improved (<i>p</i> &#x3c; 0.05), while the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) changed little (<i>p</i> = 0.492); the postoperative airflow velocity and pressure in both nasal and palatopharyngeal cavities, nasal and palatopharyngeal pressure differences, and total upper airway resistance statistically decreased (all <i>p</i> &#x3c; 0.01). A significant difference was derived for correlation between the alteration of simulation metrics with subjective improvements (<i>p</i> &#x3c; 0.05), except with the AHI (<i>p</i> &#x3e; 0.05). <b><i>Conclusion:</i></b> Nasal surgery can decrease the total resistance of the upper airway and increase the nasal airflow volume and subjective sleep quality in patients with OSA and nasal obstruction. The altered airflow characteristics might contribute to the postoperative reduction of pharyngeal collapse in a subset of OSA patients.

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