Journal of Applied Physiology (1985)
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We aimed to evaluate the potential for the use of hyperpolarized helium-3 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) surrogates of alveolar size, together with literature-based morphological parameters in a theoretical model of lung mechanics to simulate noninvasive transpulmonary pressure-volume curves. Fourteen ex-smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (n = 8 stage II, n = 6 stage III/IV COPD) and five age-matched never-smokers, provided written, informed consent and were evaluated at baseline and 26 + or - 2 mo later (n = 15 subjects) using plethysmography, spirometry, and (3)He MRI at 3.0 T. Total lung capacity, residual volume, and literature-based morphological parameters were used with alveolar volumes derived from (3)He ADC to simulate noninvasive pressure-volume curves. The resultant anterior-posterior transpulmonary pressure gradient was significantly decreased for stage II COPD (P < 0.01) and stage III COPD subjects (P < 0.001) compared with healthy volunteers. Both COPD subgroups showed increased alveolar radius compared with healthy subjects (P < 0.01, stage II COPD; P < 0.001, stage III COPD). In addition, surface area and surface tension were significantly increased in stage III COPD compared with healthy volunteers (P < 0.01). These results suggest that (3)He MRI provides a potential noninvasive approach to evaluate lung mechanics regionally and further supports the use of ADC values as a regional noninvasive probe of pulmonary microstructure and compliance.