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J Histochem Cytochem. 2004 Mar;52(3):325-34.

Bronchial branching correlates with specific glycosidase activity, extracellular glycosaminoglycan accumulation, TGF beta(2), and IL-1 localization during chick embryo lung development.

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  • 1Experimental Medicine and Biochemistry Science Department, University of Perugia, Italy.


During organ differentiation, cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions are required. The components of the ECM, such as glycosaminoglycans, fibronectin, laminin, and collagens, change in relation to cytokine and enzyme activity. Moreover, glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are components of the ECM that play an important role in both cytokine regulation and cell activities. In this work we studied the accumulation of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate and heparan sulfate proteoglycans (PGs), beta-N-acetyl-D-glucosaminidase activity, the presence of transforming growth factor beta(2) (TGF beta(2)), and interleukin-1 (IL-1), and the localization of fibronectin, laminin, and collagen I and IV during the early stages of chick embryo lung development. We also determined the levels of hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, dermatan sulfate, and heparan sulfate GAGs and the activity of beta-N-acetyl-D-glucosaminidase with biochemical methods. Our data show that beta-N-acetyl-D-glucosaminidase activity increases in each cell, especially in the epithelial growth front at the emergence of each bronchial bud, where hyaluronic acid and IL-1 are located in the surrounding mesenchymal areas. Chondroitin sulfate and heparan sulfate PGs, fibronectin, laminin, and collagen I and IV are evident in the area near the basal membrane along the sides where the forming structures are stabilized. Biochemical data show that beta-N-acetyl-D-glucosaminidase activity increases in cells during lung development and is related to GAG decrease and to modifications of the nonsulfated/sulfated GAG ratio. These modifications could change cytokine activity and play an important role in bronchial branching development.

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