Stewart, N.J., J. Parra-Robles, and J.M. Wild, Finite element modeling of (129)Xe diffusive gas exchange NMR in the human alveoli. J Magn Reson, 2016. 271: p. 21-33.
Existing models of (129)Xe diffusive exchange for lung microstructural modeling with time-resolved MR spectroscopy data have considered analytical solutions to one-dimensional, homogeneous models of the lungs with specific assumptions about the alveolar geometry. In order to establish a model system for simulating the effects of physiologically-realistic changes in physical and microstructural parameters on (129)Xe exchange NMR, we have developed a 3D alveolar capillary model for finite element analysis. To account for the heterogeneity of the alveolar geometry across the lungs, we have derived realistic geometries for finite element analysis based on 2D histological samples and 3D micro-CT image volumes obtained from ex vivo biopsies of lung tissue from normal subjects and patients with interstitial lung disease. The 3D alveolar capillary model permits investigation of the impact of alveolar geometrical parameters and diffusion and perfusion coefficients on the in vivo measured (129)Xe CSSR signal response. The heterogeneity of alveolar microstructure that is accounted for in image-based models resulted in considerable alterations to the shape of the (129)Xe diffusive uptake curve when compared to 1D models. Our findings have important implications for the future design and optimization of (129)Xe MR experiments and in the interpretation of lung microstructural changes from this data.