Characterizing airway and alveolar nitric oxide exchange during tidal breathing using a three-compartment model

Peter Condorelli, Hye Won Shin, Steven George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Exhaled nitric oxide (NO) may be a useful marker of lung inflammation, but the concentration is highly dependent on exhalation flow rate due to a significant airway source. Current methods for partitioning pulmonary NO gas exchange into airway and alveolar regions utilize multiple exhalation flow rates or a single-breath maneuver with a preexpiratory breath hold, which is cumbersome for children and individuals with compromised lung function. Analysis of tidal breathing data has the potential to overcome these limitations, while still identifying region-specific parameters. In six healthy adults, we utilized a three-compartment model (two airway compartments and one alveolar compartment) to identify two potential flow-independent parameters that represent the average volumetric airway flux (pl/s) and the time-averaged alveolar concentration (parts/billion). Significant background noise and distortion of the signal from the sampling system were compensated for by using a Gaussian wavelet filter and a series of convolution integrals. Mean values for average volumetric airway flux and time-averaged alveolar concentration were 2,500 ± 2,700 pl/s and 3.2 ± 3.4 parts/billion, respectively, and were strongly correlated with analogous parameters determined from vital capacity breathing maneuvers. Analysis of multiple tidal breaths significantly reduced the standard error of the parameter estimates relative to the single-breath technique. Our initial assessment demonstrates the potential of utilizing tidal breathing for noninvasive characterization of pulmonary NO exchange dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1832-1842
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2004


  • Gas exchange
  • Mathematical model
  • Pulmonary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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