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Title: Computational modeling of the obstructive lung diseases asthma and COPD
Authors: Burrowes, K. S.
Doel, T.
Brightling, Christopher E.
First Published: 28-Nov-2014
Publisher: BioMed Central
Citation: Journal of Translational Medicine, 2014, 12 Suppl 2, S5
Abstract: Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are characterized by airway obstruction and airflow imitation and pose a huge burden to society. These obstructive lung diseases impact the lung physiology across multiple biological scales. Environmental stimuli are introduced via inhalation at the organ scale, and consequently impact upon the tissue, cellular and sub-cellular scale by triggering signaling pathways. These changes are propagated upwards to the organ level again and vice versa. In order to understand the pathophysiology behind these diseases we need to integrate and understand changes occurring across these scales and this is the driving force for multiscale computational modeling. There is an urgent need for improved diagnosis and assessment of obstructive lung diseases. Standard clinical measures are based on global function tests which ignore the highly heterogeneous regional changes that are characteristic of obstructive lung disease pathophysiology. Advances in scanning technology such as hyperpolarized gas MRI has led to new regional measurements of ventilation, perfusion and gas diffusion in the lungs, while new image processing techniques allow these measures to be combined with information from structural imaging such as Computed Tomography (CT). However, it is not yet known how to derive clinical measures for obstructive diseases from this wealth of new data. Computational modeling offers a powerful approach for investigating this relationship between imaging measurements and disease severity, and understanding the effects of different disease subtypes, which is key to developing improved diagnostic methods. Gaining an understanding of a system as complex as the respiratory system is difficult if not impossible via experimental methods alone. Computational models offer a complementary method to unravel the structure-function relationships occurring within a multiscale, multiphysics system such as this. Here we review the currentstate-of-the-art in techniques developed for pulmonary image analysis, development of structural models of therespiratory system and predictions of function within these models. We discuss application of modeling techniques to obstructive lung diseases, namely asthma and emphysema and the use of models to predict response to therapy. Finally we introduce a large European project, AirPROM that is developing multiscale models toinvestigate structure-function relationships in asthma and COPD.
DOI Link: 10.1186/1479-5876-12-S2-S5
eISSN: 1479-5876
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2014 Burrowes et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

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