Lectin histochemistry of normal human lung

J Mol Histol. 2004 Feb;35(2):147-56. doi: 10.1023/b:hijo.0000023384.02037.bb.


This study aimed to identify and specify the glycotypes of cell populations in normal human lung including types I and II pneumocytes, alveolar macrophages and mast cells, and also in the larger tissue structures of lung, including blood vessels and bronchi/bronchioles, using lectin- and immuno-histochemistry on paraffin-embedded tissue from 11 normal cases. The alveolar macrophages were anti-CD68 positive whereas the cells lining the alveolar walls were positive for cytokeratins. The alveolar macrophages in normal lung tissues showed a broad spectrum of staining for different subsets of N-linked saccharides, N-acetylgalactosamine, N-acetylglucosamine, terminal beta-D-galactose and sialyl groups. This study showed that some lectins could be used as specific markers for some cell types i.e. Galanthus nivalis and Narcissus pseudonarcissus lectins for macrophages, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus lectin-II for capillary endothelium, Dolichos biflorus agglutinin for bronchial epithelial cells, Lycopersicon esculentum, Phytolacca americana or Triticum vulgaris (succinylated) for type I pneumocytes and Hippeastrum hybrid or Maclura pomifera lectins for type II pneumocytes. Patchy staining of type I pneumocytes by peanut agglutinin indicated the possibility of two distinct populations of these cells or a pattern of differentiation that is unapparent morphologically.

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Carbohydrates / chemistry*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / chemistry
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / chemistry
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Lectins / metabolism*
  • Lung / anatomy & histology
  • Lung / chemistry*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / chemistry
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / cytology
  • Mast Cells / chemistry


  • Carbohydrates
  • Lectins