Macroscopic elastic moduli governing the incremental deformations of lung parenchyma are calculated on the basis of a model for an individual lung element in the shape of a regular dodecahedron. Elastic stiffness within the element is provided by pin-jointed tension members along the edges of the dodecahedron, surface tension is incorporated into its pentagonal faces, and the influence of transpulmonary pressure is simulated by an externally applied hydrostatic tension. The analysis is based on a variational statement of nonlinear structural mechanics, and the results show how the moduli depend on the effective inflation pressure, the constitutive behavior of the idealized truss members, and the surface-area dependent surface tension. The theory is discussed in the light of available experimental information. A more general analysis is needed to account for the effects of structural as well as surface-tension hysteresis.

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