The mechanics of the lung parenchyma is studied using models comprised of line members interconnected to form 3-D cellular structures. The mechanical properties are represented as elastic constants of a continuum. These are determined by perturbing each individual cell from a reference state by an increment in stress which is superimposed upon the uniform stretching forces initially present in the members due to the transpulmonary pressure. A force balance on the distorted structure, together with a force-deformation law for the members, leads to a calculation of the strain increments of the members. Predictions based on the analysis of the 3-D isotropic dodecahedron are in good agreement with experimental values for the Young’s, shear, and bulk moduli reported in the literature. The model provides an explanation for the dependence of the elastic moduli on transpulmonary pressure, the geometrical details of the structure, and the stress-strain law of the tissue.

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