Objective: To better understand the process by which pneumocytes can be derived from bone marrow cells, we investigated the in vivo kinetics of such engraftment following lethal irradiation.
Methods: A cohort of lethally irradiated B6D2F1 female mice received whole bone marrow transplants (BMT) from age-matched male donors and were sacrificed at days 1, 3, 5, and 7 and months 2, 4, and 6 post-BMT (n = 3 for each time point). Additionally, 2 female mice who had received 200 male fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS)-sorted CD34(+)lin(-) cells were sacrificed 8 months post-BMT.
Results: Lethal irradiation caused histologic evidence of pneumonitis including alveolar breakdown and hemorrhage beginning at day 3. To identify male-derived pneumocytes, simultaneous fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for Y-chromosome and surfactant B messenger RNA was performed on lung tissue. Y(+) type II pneumocytes were engrafted as early as day 5 posttransplant, and eventually from 2 to 14% of the pneumocytes were donor derived in individual mice. Co-staining for epithelial-specific cytokeratins demonstrated that by 2 months, marrow-derived pneumocytes could comprise entire alveoli, suggesting that type I cells derived from type II pneumocytes.
Conclusions: We conclude that alveolar lining cells derive from bone marrow cells immediately after acute injury. Also, the CD34(+)lin(-) subpopulation is capable of such pulmonary engraftment.