Open Access
Article
Lung growth and development
Mala R Chinoy1
1
Lung Development Research Program, Department of Surgery, Hershey Medical Center, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA 17033-0850, USA. mchinoy@psu.edu
DOI: 10.2741/974 Volume 8 Issue 4, pp.392-415
Published: 01 January 2003
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functions of alveolar epithelial cells)
Abstract

The organogenesis of lung involves several complex mechanisms, including interactions between cells originating from two germ layers--endoderm and mesoderm. Regulation of lung branching morphogenesis with reference to its architecture, growth pattern, differentiation, interactions between epithelium and mesenchyme and / or endothelium, as well as genes regulating these processes have been addressed by the pulmonary biologists through careful molecular biology and genetic experimental approaches. The mammalian lung develops by outpouching from the foregut endoderm as two lung buds into the surrounding splanchnic mesenchyme. Several different regions of the foregut are specified to develop into different thoracic and visceral organs. The lung-buds further elongate and branch, and the foregut longitudinally gets separated into esophagus and trachea. In rodents (mice and rats), this occurs around embryonic day 11, where the right lung bud develops into four different lobes and left lung develops as a single lobe. In humans, these processes occur by 3-4 weeks of embryonic development, where the right lung is a trilobar lung and the left lung is a bilobar lung. Several generations of dichotomous branching occur during embryonic development, followed by secularization and alveolarization pre- and post-natally, which transform a fluid-filled lung into an air-breathing lung able to sustain the newborn. During these different developmental stages from embryonic to newborn stage, the lung architecture undergoes profound changes, which are marked by a series of programmed events regulated by master genes (e.g., homeobox genes), nuclear transcription factors, hormones, growth factors and other factors. These programmed events can be altered by undesirable exposure to overdoses of hormones/vitamins/growth factors, synthetic drugs, environmental toxins, radiation and other agents. In the recent years molecular techniques have opened avenues to study specific functions of genes or their products (proteins) in vivo or in vitro at a cellular or an organelle level, some of these include targeted disruption, knock-in / knock-out genes, in vitro mutagenesis, use of sense and anti-sense oligonucleotides. Some of these aspects with reference to regulation of normal lung development and growth and a specific example of pulmonary hypoplasia as an abnormal lung formation are discussed in this review.

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Mala R Chinoy. Lung growth and development. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2003. 8(4); 392-415.