Enhanced alveolar growth and remodeling in Guinea pigs raised at high altitude

Connie C W Hsia, Juan J Polo Carbayo, Xiao Yan, Dennis J. Bellotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


To examine the effects of chronic high altitude (HA) exposure on lung structure during somatic maturation, we raised male weanling guinea pigs at HA (3800 m) for 1, 3, or 6 months, while their respective male littermates were simultaneously raised at low altitude (LA, 1200 m). Under anaesthesia, airway pressure was measured at different lung volumes. The right lung was fixed at a constant airway pressure for morphometric analysis under light and electron microscopy. In animals raised at HA for 1 month, lung volume, alveolar surface area and alveolar-capillary blood volume (Vc) were elevated above LA control values. Following 3-6 months of HA exposure, increases in lung volume and alveolar surface area persisted while the initial increase in Vc normalized. Additional adaptation occurred, including a higher epithelial cell volume, septal tissue volume and capillary surface area, a lower alveolar duct volume and lower harmonic mean diffusion barrier resulting in higher membrane and lung diffusing capacities. These data demonstrate enhanced alveolar septal growth and progressive acinar remodeling during chronic HA exposure with long-term augmentation of alveolar dimensions as well as functional compensation in lung compliance and diffusive gas transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 12 2005


  • Alveolar duct
  • Alveolar surface area
  • Alveolar tissue volume
  • Diffusion barrier
  • Hypoxia
  • Lung diffusing capacity
  • Lung growth
  • Membrane diffusing capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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