Wall shear stress distributions in a model of normal and constricted small airways

David J. W. Evans, Anthony S. Green, Nicholas K. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Previous studies have highlighted flow shear stress as a possible damage mechanism for small airways, in particular those liable to constriction through disease or injury due to mechanical ventilation. Flow experiments in vitro have implicated shear stress as a relevant factor for mechanotransduction pathways with respect to airway epithelial cell function. Using computational fluid dynamics analysis, this study reports velocity profiles and calculations for wall shear stress distributions in a three-generation, asymmetric section of the small airways subjected to a steady, inspiratory flow. The results show distal variation of wall shear stress distributions due to velocity gradients on the carina side of each daughter airway branch. The maximum wall shear stresses in both normal and constricted small airways are shown to exceed those calculated using data from previous simpler one-dimensional experimental analyses. These findings have implications for lung cell flow experiments involving shear stress in the consideration of both normal airway function and pathology due to mechanotransduction mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Specialist publicationProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • small airways
  • bronchial epithelium
  • velocity profiles
  • shear stress modelling
  • mechanotransduction experiments
  • UKRI
  • GR/T20441/01
  • GR/R56143/01


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