University of Leicester
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Lung Computational Models and the Role of the Small Airways in Asthma

journal contribution
posted on 2020-04-16, 10:50 authored by Brody H Foy, Marcia Soares, Rafel Bordas, Matthew Richardson, Alex Bell, Amisha Singapuri, Beverley Hargadon, Christopher Brightling, Kelly Burrowes, David Kay, John Owers-Bradley, Salman Siddiqui
Rationale: Asthma is characterized by disease within the small airways. Several studies have suggested that forced oscillation technique–derived resistance at 5 Hz (R5) 2 resistance at 20 Hz (R20) is a measure of small airway disease; however, there has been limited validation of this measurement to date. Objectives: To validate the use of forced oscillation R5 2 R20 as a measure of small airway narrowing in asthma, and to investigate the role that small airway narrowing plays in asthma. Methods: Patient-based complete conducting airway models were generated from computed tomography scans to simulate the impact of different degrees of airway narrowing at different levels of the airway tree on forced oscillation R5 2 R20 (n = 31). The computational models were coupled with regression models in an asthmatic cohort (n = 177) to simulate the impact of small airway narrowing on asthma control and quality of life. The computational models were used to predict the impact on small airway narrowing of type-2 targeting biologics using pooled data from two similarly design randomized, placebo-controlled biologic trials (n = 137). Measurements and Main Results: Simulations demonstrated that narrowing of the small airways had a greater impact on R5 2 R20 than narrowing of the larger airways and was associated (above a threshold of approximately 40% narrowing) with marked deterioration in both asthma control and asthma quality of life, above the minimal clinical important difference. The observed treatment effect on R5 2 R20 in the pooled trials equated to a predicted small airway narrowing reversal of approximately 40%. Conclusions: We have demonstrated, using computational modeling, that forced oscillation R5 2 R20 is a direct measure of anatomical narrowing in the small airways and that small airway narrowing has a marked impact on both asthma control and quality of life and may be modified by biologics.


Supported by grants from and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre: Respiratory Theme (grant agreement no.RM65G0113), the East Midlands Comprehensive Clinical Research Network and EU FP7 AirPROM project (grant agreement no. 270194), unrestricted grant from the Chiesi Onulus Foundation (Validation of Particle in Exhaled Air (PEx) as a Novel Matrix for Non-Invasive Detection of Small Airways Disease in Asthma). BF is funded by the Rhodes Trust.



American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Volume 200, Issue 8

Author affiliation

College of Life Sciences


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine






982 - 991 (10)


American Thoracic Society





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United States