Computational models of airway branching morphogenesis

Victor D. Varner, Celeste M. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The bronchial network of the mammalian lung consists of millions of dichotomous branches arranged in a highly complex, space-filling tree. Recent computational models of branching morphogenesis in the lung have helped uncover the biological mechanisms that construct this ramified architecture. In this review, we focus on three different theoretical approaches – geometric modeling, reaction-diffusion modeling, and continuum mechanical modeling – and discuss how, taken together, these models have identified the geometric principles necessary to build an efficient bronchial network, as well as the patterning mechanisms that specify airway geometry in the developing embryo. We emphasize models that are integrated with biological experiments and suggest how recent progress in computational modeling has advanced our understanding of airway branching morphogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Jul 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Mechanobiology
  • Morphodynamics
  • Quantitative models
  • Turing patterns


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