Our laboratory has previously demonstrated that maximal bronchoconstriction produces a greater degree of airway narrowing in immature than in mature rabbit lungs (33). To determine whether these maturational differences could be related to airway structure, we compared the fraction of the airway wall occupied by airway smooth muscle (ASM) and cartilage, the proportion of wall area internal to ASM, and the number of alveolar attachments to the airways, from mature and immature (6-mo- and 4-wk-old, respectively) rabbit lungs that were formalin fixed at total lung capacity. The results demonstrate that the airway walls of immature rabbits had a greater percentage of smooth muscle, a lower percentage of cartilage, and fewer alveolar attachments compared with mature rabbit airways; however, we did not find maturational differences in the airway wall thickness relative to airway size. We conclude that structural differences in the airway wall may contribute to the greater airway narrowing observed in immature rabbits during bronchoconstriction.
- Lung growth
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation