Quantitative in vivo assessment of lung microstructure at the alveolar level with hyperpolarized 3He diffusion MRI

Dmitriy A. Yablonskiy, Alexander L. Sukstanskii, Jason C. Leawoods, David S. Gierada, G. Larry Bretthorst, Stephen S. Lefrak, Joel D. Cooper, Mark S. Conradi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

291 Scopus citations


The study of lung emphysema dates back to the beginning of the 17th century. Nevertheless, a number of important questions remain unanswered because a quantitative localized characterization of emphysema requires knowledge of lung structure at the alveolar level in the intact living lung. This information is not available from traditional imaging modalities and pulmonary function tests. Herein, we report the first in vivo measurements of lung geometrical parameters at the alveolar level obtained with 3He diffusion MRI in healthy human subjects and patients with severe emphysema. We also provide the first experimental data demonstrating that 3He gas diffusivity in the acinus of human lung is highly anisotropic. A theory of anisotropic diffusion is presented. Our results clearly demonstrate substantial differences between healthy and emphysematous lung at the acinar level and may provide new insights into emphysema progression. The technique offers promise as a clinical tool for early diagnosis of emphysema.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3111-3116
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 5 2002

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative in vivo assessment of lung microstructure at the alveolar level with hyperpolarized <sup>3</sup>He diffusion MRI'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this