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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Mar;110(3):764-73. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00994.2010. Epub 2010 Nov 25.

Long-term post-pneumonectomy pulmonary adaptation following all-trans-retinoic acid supplementation.

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  • 1Dept. of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9034, USA.


In adult dogs following right pneumonectomy (PNX) and receiving all-trans-retinoic acid (RA) supplementation for 4 mo, we found modestly enhanced alveolar-capillary growth in the remaining lung without enhanced resting lung function (J Appl Physiol 96: 1080-1089 and 96: 1090-1096, 2004). Since alveolar remodeling progresses beyond this period and the lipid-soluble RA continues to be released from tissue stores, we hypothesized that RA supplementation may exert additional long-term effects. To examine this issue, adult male litter-matched foxhounds underwent right PNX followed by RA supplementation (2 mg/kg po 4 days/wk, n = 6) or placebo (n = 4) for 4 mo. Cardiopulmonary function was measured at rest and during exercise at 4 and 20 mo post-PNX. The remaining lung was fixed under a constant airway pressure for morphometric analysis. Comparing RA treatment to placebo controls, there were no differences in aerobic capacity, cardiopulmonary function, or lung volume at rest or exercise. Alveolar-capillary basal lamina thickness and mean harmonic thickness of air-blood diffusion barrier were 23-29% higher. The prevalence of double-capillary profiles remained 82% higher. Absolute volumes of septal interstitium, collagen fibers, cells, and matrix were 32% higher; the relative volumes of other septal components and alveolar-capillary surface areas expressed as ratios to control values were up to 24% higher. Thus RA supplementation following right PNX modestly and persistently enhanced long-term alveolar-capillary structural dimensions, especially the deposition of interstitial and connective tissue elements, in such a way that caused a net increase in barrier resistance to diffusion without improving lung mechanics or gas exchange.

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