Fractal analysis of concurrently prepared latex rubber casts of the bronchial and vascular systems of the human lung

Montanna Essey, John N. Maina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fractal geometry (FG) is a branch of mathematics that instructively characterizes structural complexity. Branched structures are ubiquitous in both the physical and the biological realms. Fractility has therefore been termed nature's design. The fractal properties of the bronchial (airway) system, the pulmonary artery and the pulmonary vein of the human lung generates large respiratory surface area that is crammed in the lung. Also, it permits the inhaled air to intimately approximate the pulmonary capillary blood across a very thin blood-gas barrier through which gas exchange to occur by diffusion. Here, the bronchial (airway) and vascular systems were simultaneously cast with latex rubber. After corrosion, the bronchial and vascular system casts were physically separated and cleared to expose the branches. The morphogenetic (Weibel's) ordering method was used to categorize the branches on which the diameters and the lengths, as well as the angles of bifurcation, were measured. The fractal dimensions (D F) were determined by plotting the total branch measurements against the mean branch diameters on double logarithmic coordinates (axes). The diameter-determined D F values were 2.714 for the bronchial system, 2.882 for the pulmonary artery and 2.334 for the pulmonary vein while the respective values from lengths were 3.098, 3.916 and 4.041. The diameters yielded D F values that were consistent with the properties of fractal structures (i.e. self-similarity and space-filling). The data obtained here compellingly suggest that the design of the bronchial system, the pulmonary artery and the pulmonary vein of the human lung functionally comply with the Hess-Murray law or 'the principle of minimum work'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number190249
JournalOpen Biology
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Hess-Murray law
  • branching
  • fractal dimension
  • fractal geometry
  • lung

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology

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