Functional assessment of pulmonary capillary surface area in the 2-mo-old lamb

B. R. Pitt, G. Lister, J. J. Perez Fontan, P. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We recently reported that measurements of the maximal velocity of pulmonary endothelial angiotensin-converting enzyme (V(max)) in vivo provide information regarding microvascular surface area in the developing lamb. To obviate any subtle influences of development on V(max) aside from simple increases in surface area, we correlated V(max) with postmortem stereological assessments of alveolar surface area in the relatively mature lung of the 2-mo-old lamb (n = 14). We attempted to increase the range of surface area beyond its normal variability by injecting nine of the lambs with bleomycin, an antineoplastic agent with significant pulmonary toxicity in other species. V(max), measured shortly after birth and then weekly, increased monotonically in all lambs. Despite their wide dispersion, V(max) and the stereological determinations correlated strongly at 2 mo of age, confirming that V(max) is a robust indicator of the surface area of the air-blood barrier. There was no significant difference in either measurement between the control lambs and those treated with bleomycin, suggesting that the newborn lamb is resistant to the effect of this agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1677-1685
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991


  • angiotensin-converting enzyme
  • lung development
  • morphometry indicator-dilution
  • pulmonary endothelium
  • sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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