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Cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterized by small airway disease; but central airways may also be affected. We hypothesized that airway resistance estimated from computational fluid dynamic (CFD) methodology in infants with CF was higher than controls and that early airway inflammation in infants with CF is associated with airway resistance. Central airway models with a median of 51 bronchial outlets per model (interquartile range 46,56) were created from chest computed tomography scans of 18 infants with CF and 7 controls. Steady state airflow into the trachea was simulated to estimate central airway resistance in each model. Airway resistance was increased in the full airway models of infants with CF versus controls and in models trimmed to 33 bronchi. Airway resistance was associated with markers of inflammation in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid obtained approximately 8 months earlier but not with markers obtained at the same time. In conclusion, airway resistance estimated by CFD modeling is increased in infants with CF compared to controls and may be related to early airway inflammation.

Authors: Emily DeBoer, Julia Kimbell, Kaci Pickett, Joseph Hatch, Kathryn Akers, John Brinton, Graham Hall, Louise King, Fiona Ramanauskas, Tim Rosenow, Stephen Stick, Harm Tiddens, Thomas  Ferkol, Sarath Ranganathan, Stephanie Davis, AREST CF