Deposition patterns of ragweed pollen in the human respiratory tract

T. B. Martonen, M. K. O’Rourke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Inhaled particle deposition sites must be identified to effectively treat human airway diseases. We have determined distribution patterns of a selected aeroallergen, ragweed pollen, among human extrathoracic (ET: i.e., oro-nasopharyngcal) regions and the lung. A predictive model validated by inhalation exposure data from human subjects was utilized. Deposition locations were primarily functions of 1. ragweed particle parameters (size: 14-20 im, shape: spherical, and density: 1.14 g cm-3) and 2. mode of breathing. In the general population, two styles of inhalation are prevalent: normal augmentors (NAs), and mouth breathers (MBs), their clinical definitions arc based on intra-ET airflow divisions. For a NA-mode breathing, sedentary (10 L min-1) adult, 88% of inhaled ragweed pollen was removed by the ET compartment and 7% collected within the lung. For a MB, the respective deposition efficiencies were 68% and 25%. To apply the model, we used a daily springtime ragweed pollen concentration of 300 grains m-3 and an exposure time of 0.5 hour to calculate actual doses for the respiratory system. Under the stipulated conditions, a MB would inhale 45 pollen grains per day and 8 would be deposited in the lung; the value is 3 grains for a NA. Frequently, individuals with impaired respiratory functions are MBs in whom such pollen deposits are likely contributors to airway disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-86
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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