Drosophila melanogaster larvae as a model for blast lung injury.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Primary blast injuries, specifically lung injuries, resulting from blast overpressure exposures are a major source of mortality for victims of blast events. However, existing pulmonary injury criteria are inappropriate for common exposure environments. This study uses Drosophila melanogaster larvae to develop a simple phenomenological model for human pulmonary injury from primary blast exposure.


Drosophila larvae were exposed to blast overpressures generated by a 5.1-cm internal diameter shock tube and their mortality was observed after the exposure. To establish mortality thresholds, a survival analysis was conducted using survival data and peak incident pressures. In addition, a histologic analysis was performed on the larvae to establish the mechanisms of blast injury.


The results of the survival analysis suggest that blast overpressure for 50% Drosophila survival is greater than human threshold lung injury and is similar to human 50% survival levels, in the range of overpressure durations tested (1-5 ms). A "parallel" analysis of the Bass et al. 50% human survival curves indicates that 50% Drosophila survival is equivalent to a human injury resulting in a 69% chance of survival. Histologic analysis of the blast-exposed larvae failed to demonstrate damage to the dorsal trunk of the tracheal system; however, the presence of flocculent material in the larvae body cavities and tracheas suggests tissue damage.


This study shows that D. melanogaster survival can be correlated with large animal injury models to approximate a human blast lung injury tolerance. Within the range of durations tested, Drosophila larvae may be used as a simple model for blast injury.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bass, CR; Meyerhoff, KP; Damon, AM; Bellizzi, AM; Salzar, RS; Rafaels, KA

Published Date

  • July 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 69 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 179 - 184

PubMed ID

  • 20173659

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-8809

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-5282

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/ta.0b013e3181c42649


  • eng