An experimental system to study mechanotransduction in fetal lung cells

Yulian Wang, Zheping Huang, Pritha S. Nayak, Juan Sanchez-Esteban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Mechanical forces generated in utero by repetitive breathing-like movements and by fluid distension are critical for normal lung development. A key component of lung development is the differentiation of alveolar type II epithelial cells, the major source of pulmonary surfactant. These cells also participate in fluid homeostasis in the alveolar lumen, host defense, and injury repair. In addition, distal lung parenchyma cells can be directly exposed to exaggerated stretch during mechanical ventilation after birth. However, the precise molecular and cellular mechanisms by which lung cells sense mechanical stimuli to influence lung development and to promote lung injury are not completely understood. Here, we provide a simple and high purity method to isolate type II cells and fibroblasts from rodent fetal lungs. Then, we describe an in vitro system, The Flexcell Strain Unit, to provide mechanical stimulation to fetal cells, simulating mechanical forces in fetal lung development or lung injury. This experimental system provides an excellent tool to investigate molecular and cellular mechanisms in fetal lung cells exposed to stretch. Using this approach, our laboratory has identified several receptors and signaling proteins that participate in mechanotransduction in fetal lung development and lung injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3543
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number60
StatePublished - Feb 16 2012


  • Bioengineering
  • Differentiation
  • Fetal
  • Fibroblasts
  • Isolation
  • Issue 60
  • Lung injury
  • Mechanical stretch
  • Type II epithelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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