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Increase in relative deposition of fine particles in the rat lung periphery in the absence of gravity.

  • Author(s): Darquenne, Chantal
  • Borja, Maria G
  • Oakes, Jessica M
  • Breen, Ellen C
  • Olfert, I Mark
  • Scadeng, Miriam
  • Prisk, G Kim
  • et al.

While it is well recognized that pulmonary deposition of inhaled particles is lowered in microgravity (μG) compared with gravity on the ground (1G), the absence of sedimentation causes fine particles to penetrate deeper in the lung in μG. Using quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we determined the effect of gravity on peripheral deposition (DEPperipheral) of fine particles. Aerosolized 0.95-μm-diameter ferric oxide particles were delivered to spontaneously breathing rats placed in plethysmographic chambers both in μG aboard the NASA Microgravity Research Aircraft and at 1G. Following exposure, lungs were perfusion fixed, fluid filled, and imaged in a 3T MR scanner. The MR signal decay rate, R2*, was measured in each voxel of the left lung from which particle deposition (DEP) was determined based on a calibration curve. Regional deposition was assessed by comparing DEP between the outer (DEPperipheral) and inner (DEPcentral) areas on each slice, and expressed as the central-to-peripheral ratio. Total lung deposition tended to be lower in μG compared with 1G (1.01 ± 0.52 vs. 1.43 ± 0.52 μg/ml, P = 0.1). In μG, DEPperipheral was larger than DEPcentral (P < 0.03), while, in 1G, DEPperipheral was not significantly different from DEPcentral. Finally, central-to-peripheral ratio was significantly less in μG than in 1G (P ≤ 0.05). These data show a larger fraction of fine particles depositing peripherally in μG than in 1G, likely beyond the large- and medium-sized airways. Although not measured, the difference in the spatial distribution of deposited particles between μG and 1G could also affect particle retention rates, with an increase in retention for particles deposited more peripherally.

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