Open Access Open Badges Research

Development of a three-dimensional model of the human respiratory system for dosimetric use

Jacky A Rosati Rowe1*, Ray Burton2, George McGregor2, Rob McCauley2, Wei Tang2 and Richard Spencer2

Author Affiliations

1 US EPA Office of Research and Development, Durham, NC 27711, USA

2 Lockheed Martin, 109 TW Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling 2013, 10:28  doi:10.1186/1742-4682-10-28

Published: 1 May 2013



Determining the fate of inhaled contaminants in the human respiratory system has challenged scientists for years. Human and animal studies have provided some data, but there is a paucity of data for toxic contaminants and sensitive populations (such as children, elderly, diseased).


Three-dimensional modeling programs and publicly available human physiology data have been used to develop a comprehensive model of the human respiratory system.


The in silico human respiratory system model, which includes the extrathoracic region (nasal, oral, pharyngeal, and laryngeal passages), the upper airways (trachea and main bronchi), the tracheobronchial tree, and branching networks through alveolar region, allows for virtually any variation of airway geometries and disease states. The model allows for parameterization of variables that define the subject’s airways by integrating morphological changes created by disease, age, etc. with a dynamic morphology.


The model can be used for studies of sensitive populations and the homeland security community, in cases where inhalation studies on humans cannot be conducted with toxic contaminants of interest.

Three-dimensional modeling; Lung physiology; Nasal physiology; Dosimetry; Human respiratory system; Sensitive populations