Role of elastic fiber degradation in emphysema-like lesions of pulmonary lymphangiomyomatosis

Hum Pathol. 1990 Dec;21(12):1252-61. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(06)80039-0.


To study the pulmonary structural remodeling in pulmonary lymphangiomyomatosis, electron microscopy and light and electron microscopic immunohistochemical observations for elastin and alpha 1-antitrypsin were performed on five open lung biopsy samples. Lung specimens showed emphysema-like changes in areas of abnormally accumulated smooth muscle cells. In the alveolar walls having accumulated smooth muscle cells, elastic fibers were decreased in number, disrupted, granular, and occasionally accumulated. Ultrastructurally, elastic fibers in areas of smooth muscle cell accumulation showed poorly outlined amorphous components and a few microfibrils, and occasionally showed electron-dense granular deposits in and around the amorphous components. Spiraling collagen fibrils were frequently found associated with these abnormal elastic fibers. Immunohistochemistry for elastin showed even staining of amorphous components of elastic fibers in the areas of smooth muscle cell accumulation. alpha 1-Antitrypsin was also detected evenly in amorphous components of elastic fibers in the areas of smooth muscle cell accumulation. It is proposed that the emphysema-like lesions of lymphangiomyomatosis are mediated by the degradation of elastic fibers, and these degraded elastic fibers are related to an imbalance of the elastase/alpha 1-antitrypsin system similar to the probable pathogenesis of emphysema.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Elastic Tissue / chemistry
  • Elastic Tissue / pathology*
  • Elastic Tissue / ultrastructure
  • Elastin / analysis
  • Emphysema / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Lymphangiomyoma / chemistry
  • Lymphangiomyoma / pathology*
  • Lymphangiomyoma / ultrastructure
  • Middle Aged
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / analysis


  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin
  • Elastin