Structure-function relationships in the pulmonary arterial tree

Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

Journal of Applied Physiology

Source ISSN



Knowledge of the relationship between structure and function of the normal pulmonary arterial tree is necessary for understanding normal pulmonary hemodynamics and the functional consequences of the vascular remodeling that accompanies pulmonary vascular diseases. In an effort to provide a means for relating the measurable vascular geometry and vessel mechanics data to the mean pressure-flow relationship and longitudinal pressure profile, we present a mathematical model of the pulmonary arterial tree. The model is based on the observation that the normal pulmonary arterial tree is a bifurcating tree in which the parent-to-daughter diameter ratios at a bifurcation and vessel distensibility are independent of vessel diameter, and although the actual arterial tree is quite heterogeneous, the diameter of each route, through which the blood flows, tapers from the arterial inlet to essentially the same terminal arteriolar diameter. In the model the average route is represented as a tapered tube through which the blood flow decreases with distance from the inlet because of the diversion of flow at the many bifurcations along the route. The taper and flow diversion are expressed in terms of morphometric parameters obtained using various methods for summarizing morphometric data. To help put the model parameter values in perspective, we applied one such method to morphometric data obtained from perfused dog lungs. Model simulations demonstrate the sensitivity of model pressure-flow relationships to variations in the morphometric parameters. Comparisons of simulations with experimental data also raise questions as to the “hemodynamically” appropriate ways to summarize morphometric data.


Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 86, No. 2 (February 1999): 569-583. Permalink.