Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Jason Woods


Quantitative measurement of lung microstructure is of great significance in assessment of pulmonary disease, particularly in the earliest stages. Conventional stereological assessment of ex-vivo fixed tissue specimens under the microscope has a long and successful tradition and is regarded as a gold standard, but the invasive nature limits its applications and the practicality of use in longitudinal studies. The technique for diffusion MRI-based 3He lung morphometry was previously developed and validated for human lungs, and was recently extended to ex-vivo mouse lungs. The technique yields accurate, quantitative information about the microstructure and geometry of acinar airways. In this dissertation, the 3He lung morphometry technique is for the first time successfully implemented for in-vivo studies of mice. It can generate spatially-resolved maps of parameters that reveal the microstructure of mouse lung. Results in healthy mice indicate excellent agreement between in-vivo morphometry via 3He MRI and microscopic morphometry after sacrifice. The implementation and validation of 3He morphometry in healthy mice open up new avenues for application of the technique as a precise, noninvasive, in-vivo biomarker of changes in lung microstructure, within various mouse models of lung disease. We have applied 3He morphometry to the Sendai mouse model of lung disease. Specifically, the Sendai-virus model of chronic obstructive lung disease has demonstrated an innate immune response in mouse airways that exhibits similarities to the chronic airway inflammation in human COPD and asthma, but the effect on distal lung parenchyma had not been investigated. We imaged the time course and regional distribution of mouse lung microstructural changes in vivo after Sendai virus: SeV) infection with 1H and 3He diffusion MRI. 1H MR images detected the SeV-induced pulmonary inflammation in vivo and 3He lung morphometry showed modest increase in alveolar duct radius distal to airway inflammation, particularly in the lung periphery, indicating airspace enlargement after virus infection. Another important application of the imaging technique is the study of lung regeneration in a pneumonectomy: PNX) model. Partial resection of the lung by unilateral PNX is a robust model of compensatory lung growth. It is typically studied by postmortem morphometry in which longitudinal assessment in the same animal cannot be achieved. Here we successfully assess the microstructural changes and quantify the compensatory lung growth in vivo in the PNX mouse model via 1H and hyperpolarized 3He diffusion MRI. Our results show complete restoration in lung volume and total alveolar number with enlargement of alveolar size, which is consistent with prior histological studies conducted in different animals at various time points. This dissertation demonstrates that 3He lung morphometry has good sensitivity in quantifying small microstructural changes in the mouse lung and can be applied to a variety of mouse pulmonary models. Particularly, it has great potential to become a valuable tool in understanding the time course and the mechanism of lung growth in individual animals and may provide insight into post-natal lung growth and lung regeneration.



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