A brief update on lung stereology

J Microsc. 2006 Jun;222(Pt 3):188-200. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.2006.01587.x.


Lung stereology has a long and successful tradition. From mice to men, the application of new stereological methods at several levels (alveoli, parenchymal cells, organelles, proteins) has led to new insights into normal lung architecture, parenchymal remodelling in emphysema-like pathology, alveolar type II cell hyperplasia and hypertrophy and intracellular surfactant alterations as well as distribution of surfactant proteins. The Euler number of the network of alveolar openings, estimated using physical disectors at the light microscopic level, is an unbiased and direct estimate of alveolar number. Surfactant-producing alveolar type II cells can be counted and sampled for local size estimation with physical disectors at a high magnification light microscopic level. The number of their surfactant storage organelles, lamellar bodies, can be estimated using physical disectors at the EM level. By immunoelectron microscopy, surfactant protein distribution can be analysed with the relative labelling index. Together with the well-established classical stereological methods, these design-based methods now allow for a complete quantitative phenotype analysis in lung development and disease, including the structural characterization of gene-manipulated mice, at the light and electron microscopic level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Count / methods*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / anatomy & histology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / ultrastructure*
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein B / isolation & purification
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein B / metabolism
  • Stereotaxic Techniques*


  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein B