COPD – Small Airway Remodeling


Chronic pulmonary diseases are characterized by the remodeling of lung tissues affecting the alveolar parenchyma, bronchi and vessels. Morphometric quantitative analysis of airway remodeling from histological images of lung slices remains highly problematic up to now, due to the scarcity of specific, accurate and powerful analytical tools. Biocellvia has successfully developed a SAR assay which enables highly precise analysis of small airway remodeling.


  • Biocellvia’s assay is based on computer analysis of digital images of entire lung lobe sections at high resolution (pixel size: 0.452 µm), obtained from the scan of histological slides. An automatic selection of small airways is performed on lung sections according to specific morphometric parameters.
  • Quantitative morphometric analysis of small airway epithelium and peribronchial smooth mucle is performed by assessing multiple key morphometric parameters:

1- Bronchiole area

2- Bronchiole diameter

3- Lumen area

4- Epithelial area

5- Epithelial wall thickness

6- Peribronchial collagen

  • The assessment of multiple morphometric parameters has been validated as endpoint measurements in several rodent models in which small airway remodeling was induced by cigarette smoke, environmental air pollutants, as well as in genetically modified mice.
  • The quantification of emphysema is fully automatic from the scanning of slides to the complete evaluation of morphometric parameters and statistical analysis. This analysis is very rapid (<2h for 100 whole lung sections) and avoids any intra- and inter-variabilities from the subjective manipulation of the experimenter.


  • Concurrent to the evaluation of morphometric parameters, an automatic software image analysis was developed to quantify the expression of peribronchial collagen. We showed that this quantitative analysis of lung collagen – from Masson trichrome or picrosirius red stained sections – allows a very fine correlation between morphometric changes of small bronchi and the expression of their peribronchial collagen, which cannot be achieved by hydroxyproline or Sircol assays.

Figure 1. Representative images of a fully automatic delineation of epithelium and peribronchial collagen of a small bronchiole. The selection of small bronchiole with a part of parenchymal tissue was carried out in two serial slides stained with HE and picrosirius red respectively.


  • Biocellvia’s SAR assay is a fully automatic software analysis, totally observer-independentand therefore free of any intra- and inter-experimental variabilities.
  • Quantitative assessment of small airway remodeling is performed by matching multiple morphometric parameters of both epithelium bronchi and attached smooth muscle layer, leading to a significantly more comprehensive analysis of structural changes than the manual or semi-automatic currently available methods.
  • Biocellvia’s SAR assay is coupled to the measurement of peribronchial collagen content, allowing a very fine correlation between morphometric changes of small bronchi and the expression of their peribronchial collagen. This cannot be achieved by standard hydroxyproline or Sircol assay methods.
  • The Biocellvia’s SAR assay can be conducted in parallel with the fully automatic analysis of emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis allowing a comprehensive analysis of additional structural changes which might also occur in the alveolar parenchyma.

Biocellvia’s cutting-edge digital SAR assay is unparalleled in its robustness and accuracy, and is your best and most reliable choice in preclinical drug evaluation, empowering your Go/No decisions.

Feel free to contact us to get more information

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