Exploring lung physiology in health and disease with lung slices

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Oct;24(5):452-65. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2011.05.001. Epub 2011 May 12.


The development of therapeutic approaches to treat lung disease requires an understanding of both the normal and disease physiology of the lung. Although traditional experimental approaches only address either organ or cellular physiology, the use of lung slice preparations provides a unique approach to investigate integrated physiology that links the cellular and organ responses. Living lung slices are robust and can be prepared from a variety of species, including humans, and they retain many aspects of the cellular and structural organization of the lung. Functional portions of intrapulmonary airways, arterioles and veins are present within the alveoli parenchyma. The dynamics of macroscopic changes of contraction and relaxation associated with the airways and vessels are readily observed with conventional low-magnification microscopy. The microscopic changes associated with cellular events, that determine the macroscopic responses, can be observed with confocal or two-photon microscopy. To investigate disease processes, lung slices can either be prepared from animal models of disease or animals exposed to disease invoking conditions. Alternatively, the lung slices themselves can be experimentally manipulated. Because of the ability to observe changes in cell physiology and how these responses manifest themselves at the level of the organ, lung slices have become a standard tool for the investigation of lung disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Lung Diseases / pathology*
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Organ Culture Techniques