Comparative morphometry of the upper bronchial tree in six mammalian species



The length, diameter, and angle of branching of all airways through the sixth level of branching below the trachea were measured on corrosion casts prepared from the lungs of two animals whose bronchial geometry has not previously been studied, namely the donkey and the rabbit. These measurements and morphometric data for the rat, hamster, dog, and human obtained from other sources were analyzed and compared. The cast prepared from human lungs exhibited an airway geometry that was clearly distinct from that shown by the nonhuman species. The human upper bronchial tree was the most symmetrical with respect to airway diameter and angle of branching. In all species studied, airway length was the most irregular parameter. The reasons for differences in branching geometry are not clearly understood. However, when attempting to determine whether a particular species may be used as a model for man in inhalation toxicology, and in the subsequent interpretation of animal data, an appreciation of differences in airway morphometry is essential.