Premature birth affects the degree of airway dysanapsis and mechanical ventilatory constraints

Joseph W. Duke, Igor M. Gladstone, A. William Sheel, Andrew T. Lovering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


New Findings: What is the central question of this study? Adult survivors of preterm birth without (PRE) and with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) have airflow obstruction at rest and significant mechanical ventilatory constraints during exercise compared with those born at full term (CON). Do PRE/BPD have smaller airways, indexed via the dysanapsis ratio, than CON? What is the main finding and its importance? The dysanapsis ratio was significantly smaller in BPD and PRE compared with CON, with BPD having the smallest dysanapsis ratio. These data suggest that airflow obstruction in PRE and BPD might be because of smaller airways than CON. Adult survivors of very preterm birth (≤32 weeks gestational age) without (PRE) and with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) have obstructive lung disease as evidenced by reduced expiratory airflow at rest and have significant mechanical ventilatory constraints during exercise. Airflow obstruction, in any conditions, could be attributable to several factors, including small airways. PRE and/or BPD could have smaller airways than their counterparts born at full term (CON) owing to a greater degree of dysanaptic airway development during the pre- and/or postnatal period. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to compare the dysanapsis ratio (DR), as an index of airway size, between PRE, BPD and CON. To do so, we calculated DR in PRE (n = 21), BPD (n = 14) and CON (n = 34) individuals and examined flow–volume loops at rest and during submaximal exercise. The DR, using multiple estimates of static recoil pressure, was significantly smaller in PRE and BPD (0.16 ± 0.05 and 0.10 ± 0.03 a.u.) compared with CON (0.22 ± 0.04 a.u.; both P < 0.001) and smallest in BPD (P < 0.001). The DR was significantly correlated with peak expiratory airflow at rest (r = 0.42; P < 0.001) and the extent of expiratory flow limitation during exercise (r = 0.60; P < 0.001). Our findings suggest that PRE/BPD might have anatomically smaller airways than CON, which might help to explain their lower expiratory airflow rate at rest and during exercise and further our understanding of the consequences of preterm birth and neonatal O2 therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-275
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • airways
  • bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • expiratory flow limitation
  • mechanical ventilatory constraints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Premature birth affects the degree of airway dysanapsis and mechanical ventilatory constraints'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this