Postnatal alveolar development of the rabbit

J. Kovar, J. Kovar, Peter Sly, K.E. Willet

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies of alveolarization have used rats or lambs; however, neither closely reflects human alveolar development. We characterized alveolar development in rabbits (n + 3-7/group) at 28 days gestation (dg) to 9 mo to determine whether they followed the human pattern more closely. The right lung was made up of 30% alveolar and 50% duct space at 28 dg to 3 days and of 50 and 30%, respectively, at 14 days to 9 mo. Tissue fraction and alveolar wall thickness decreased by 40% 28 dg to birth. At birth, similar to4.5% of the number of alveoli seen at 9 mo were present, with alveolar number increasing progressively well into adulthood. The rate of alveolar formation was high around birth, decreasing progressively with age. Alveolar volume increased more than twofold (28 dg to birth) and continued to increase postnatally to 16 wk. Surface fraction decreased by 17% (28 dg to 3 days), after which it remained uniform. Our findings suggest that the timing of onset of alveolarization in humans and rabbits is similar and that rabbits may be used to model postnatal influences on alveolar development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-635
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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