Distribution of obstructive intimal lesions and their cellular phenotypes in chronic pulmonary hypertension. A morphometric and immunohistochemical study

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 Oct;162(4 Pt 1):1577-86. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.162.4.9912131.


We investigated the distribution of pulmonary arteriopathy in chronic pulmonary hypertension (PH) in a quantitative histopathologic study, using computer-assisted image analysis. We also examined the histologic manifestations and cellular phenotypes of various obstructive intimal lesions in PH with an immunohistochemical method. A total of 53 lungs removed at autopsy or explantation were obtained for the study from 51 documented cases of moderate to severe PH (15 cases of primary pulmonary hypertension [PPH], eight cases of Eisenmenger's syndrome [EISEN], 22 cases of chronic major-vessel thromboembolic disease [CTED], and three cases of PH associated with other known causes), and two unused donor lungs served as normal controls. Intimal thickening in PPH was most prominent in small pulmonary arteries and arterioles less than 200 micrometer in diameter. Plexiform lesions in PPH were associated with significantly smaller arteries than in EISEN. Arteries larger than 400 micrometer showed a significant intimal thickening only in CTED. Obstructive intimal lesions in PH comprised a morphologic spectrum with frequent intermediate forms between plexiform and thrombotic lesions. Most cells within various intimal lesions showed an immunoprofile of myofibroblasts that were positive for vimentin and alpha-smooth muscle actin, but negative for desmin and endothelial markers including Factor VIII, clonal designator (CD)31, and CD34. Endothelial markers were positive only in the single layer of cells lining slitlike lumens, when the latter were present. In conclusion, major types of PH had characteristic distribution patterns of obstructive intimal lesions, showing mainly a myofibroblastic phenotype and variable endothelial/vascular differentiation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Eisenmenger Complex / pathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Female
  • Fibromuscular Dysplasia / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / pathology
  • Tunica Intima / pathology*