Dysanapsis in men and women with obesity

Jonathon L. Stickford, Daniel P. Wilhite, Dharini M. Bhammar, Bryce N. Balmain, Tony G. Babb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Obesity alters chest wall mechanics, reduces lung volumes, and increases airway resistance. In addition, the luminal area of the larger conducting airways is smaller in women than in men when matched for lung size. We examined whether differences in pulmonary mechanics with obesity and sex were associated with the dysanapsis ratio (DR), an estimate of airway size when the expiratory flow is maximal, in men and women with and without obesity. In addition, we examined the ability to estimate DR using predicted versus measured static recoil pressure at 50% forced vital capacity (FVC; Pst50FVC). Participants completed pulmonary function testing and measurements of pulmonary mechanics. Flow, volume, and transpulmonary pressure were recorded while completing forced vital capacity (FVC) maneuvers in a body plethysmograph. Static compliance curves were collected using the occlusion technique. DR was calculated using measured values of forced midexpiratory flow and Pst50FVC. DR was also calculated using Pst predicted from previously reported data. There was no significant group (lean vs. obese) by sex interaction or main effect of group on DR. However, women displayed significantly larger DR compared with men. Predicted Pst50FVC was significantly greater than measured Pst50FVC. DR calculated from measured Pst was significantly greater than when using predicted Pst. In conclusion, although obesity does not appear to alter airway size, women may have larger airways compared with men when midexpiratory flow is maximal. In addition, DR estimated using predicted Pst should be used with caution. NEW & NOTEWORTHY It is unclear whether obesity in combination with sex influences the dysanapsis ratio (DR). These data indicate that DR is unaltered in adults with obesity and is greater in women than in men but similar between sexes when matched for lung volume. We also report a significant difference between predicted and measured static recoil pressure. Thus, we caution against predicting static recoil pressure in the calculation of DR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-503
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway size
  • Forced expiration
  • Pulmonary function
  • Static pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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