Three-dimensional computed tomography imaging in an animal model of emphysema
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Emphysema is a major health problem and novel drugs are needed. Animal disease models are pivotal in their development, but the validity and sensitivity of current tools for the evaluation of drug efficacy is limited. The usefulness of micro computed tomography (CT) as an innovative tool to assess emphysema in a mouse model was investigated. Serial CT scans were performed in bi-weekly intervals in Smad3 knockout (KO) mice, which spontaneously develop airspace enlargement. Lung density was quantified in two- and three-dimensional images and correlated to mean linear intercept and lung compliance. CT scans of Smad3 KO lungs revealed a significant decrease in lung density at age 8 weeks and a further progression at age 14 weeks with respect to age-matched wild-type (WT) animals. Emphysema could be reliably assessed with both the two- and three-dimensional approach, but the three-dimensional approach was superior, due to normalisation to lung volumes and less variability. Lung compliance by week 14 was 0.053+/-0.005 and 0.034+/-0.002% of maximum volume.cmH(2)O(-1) for KO and WT mice, respectively, reflecting significant physiologically relevant emphysema. Small animal computed tomography imaging and density quantification in a reconstructed three-dimensional image is a useful tool for quantifying emphysematous changes in an animal disease model. It adds significant information to conventional assessment.