Toward therapeutic pulmonary alveolar regeneration in humans

Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2006 Nov;3(8):709-12. doi: 10.1513/pats.200605-127SF.


In humans, age results in loss of pulmonary alveoli; menopause accelerates loss of diffusing capacity, an index of alveolar surface area; and disease (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) results in loss of alveoli. Thus, an important goal for investigators is to generate knowledge that allows induction of pulmonary alveolar regeneration in humans. Our enthusiasm for this goal and our assessment of its feasibility are based on work in several laboratories over the last decade that has disproved the notion that pulmonary alveoli are incapable of regeneration, and on the growing evidence that signals that regulate programs of alveolar turnover (loss and regeneration) are conserved from rodents to humans. We review animal models of alveolar loss and regeneration and their conservation during evolution, and hence their relevance to humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Humans
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / growth & development*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Regeneration / genetics
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Rodentia


  • Estrogens