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Biological Research

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CANALS, MAURICIO; OLIVARES, RICARDO; LABRA, FABIAN  and  NOVOA, FRANCISCO F. Ontogenetic changes in the fractal geometry of the bronchial tree in Rattus norvegicus. Biol. Res. [online]. 2000, vol.33, n.1, pp.31-35. ISSN 0716-9760.

Respiration and metabolism change dramatically over the course of the development of vertebrates. In mammals these changes may be ascribed to organogenesis and differentiation of structures involved in gas exchange and transport and the increase in size. Since young as well as mature individuals must be well-designed if the species is to survive, the physiological changes during the development should be matched with geometrical or structural adjustments of the respiratory system. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in the fractal geometry of the bronchial tree during the postnatal development of the rat. The average fractal dimension of the bronchial tree of the rats was 1.587, but that of juveniles was larger than that of the adults. We found a significant negative correlation between age and fractal dimension. This correlation could be considered be misleading because of the difficulty of separating age/body size effects. Nevertheless, because fractal dimensions of the bronchial tree of rabbits and humans are known to be similar, 1.58 and 1.57 respectively, the body size effect may be nil. To our knowledge, this is the first report of ontogenetic changes in the fractal dimension of the bronchial tree in mammals

Keywords : Bronchial tree; Fractals; Ontogeny.

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