Quantification of human lung structure and physiology using hyperpolarized 129Xe

Yulin V. Chang, James D. Quirk, Iulian C. Ruset, Jeffrey J. Atkinson, F. William Hersman, Jason C. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose To present in vivo, human validation of a previously proposed method to measure key pulmonary parameters related to lung microstructure and physiology. Some parameters, such as blood-air barrier thickness, cannot be measured readily by any other noninvasive modality. Methods Healthy volunteers (n = 12) were studied in 1.5T and 3T whole body human scanners using hyperpolarized xenon. Xenon uptake by lung parenchyma and blood was measured using a chemical shift saturation recovery sequence. Both dissolved-xenon peaks at 197 ppm and 217-218 ppm were fitted against a model of xenon exchange (MOXE) as functions of exchange time. Parameters related to lung function and structure can be obtained by fitting to this model. Results The following results were obtained from xenon uptake (averaged over all healthy volunteers): surface-area-to-volume ratio = 210 ± 50 cm-1; total septal wall thickness = 9.2 ± 6.5 μm; blood-air barrier thickness = 1.0 ± 0.3 μm; hematocrit = 27 ± 4%; pulmonary capillary blood transit time = 1.3 ± 0.3 s, in good agreement with literature values from invasive experiments. More detailed fitting results are listed in the text. Conclusion The initial in vivo human results demonstrate that our proposed methods can be used to noninvasively determine lung physiology by simultaneous quantification of a few important pulmonary parameters. This method is highly promising to become a versatile screening method for lung diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-344
Number of pages6
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Fahraeus effect
  • barrier thickness
  • field-dependent chemical shift
  • lung physiology
  • surface-area-to-volume ratio


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