Physiological impacts of computed tomography airway dysanapsis, fractal dimension, and branch count in asymptomatic never smokers

Tomoki Maetani, Naoya Tanabe, Satoru Terada, Yusuke Shiraishi, Hiroshi Shima, Shizuo Kaji, Ryo Sakamoto, Tsuyoshi Oguma, Susumu Sato, Izuru Masuda, Toyohiro Hirai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Dysanapsis, a mismatch between airway tree caliber and lung size, contributes to a large variation in lung function on spirometry in healthy subjects. However, it remains unclear whether other morphological features of the airway tree could be associated with the variation in lung function independent of dysanapsis. This study used lung cancer screening chest computed tomography (CT) and spirometry data from asymptomatic never smokers. Dysanapsis and the complexity of airway tree geometry were quantified on CT by measuring airway to lung ratio (ALR) and airway fractal dimension (AFD). Moreover, total airway count (TAC), ratio of airway luminal surface area to volume (SA/V), longitudinal tapering and irregularity of the radius of the internal lumen from the central to peripheral airways (Tapering index and Irregularity index) were quantified. In 431 asymptomatic never smokers without a history of lung diseases, lower ALR was associated with lower forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and FEV1/forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC). The associations of ALR with AFD and TAC (r = 0.41 and 0.13) were weaker than the association between TAC and AFD (r = 0.64). In multivariable models adjusted for age, sex, height, and mean lung density, lower AFD and TAC were associated with lower FEV1 and FEV1/FVC independent of ALR, whereas SA/V and Tapering index were not. These results suggest that the smaller airway tree relative to a given lung size and the lower complexity of airway tree shape, including lower branch count, are independently associated with lower lung function in healthy subjects.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study showed that fractal dimension and total airway count of the airway tree on computed tomography are associated with lung function on spirometry independent of a smaller airway for a given lung size (dysanapsis) in asymptomatic never smokers without a history of lung diseases. In addition to dysanapsis, the morphometric complexity of the airway tree and the airway branch count may cause a substantial variation of lung function in these subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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