Background: An intriguing biologic process in most adult mammals is post-pneumonectomy lung regeneration, that is, the removal of one lung (pneumonectomy) results in the rapid compensatory growth of the remaining lung. The spatial dependence and metabolic activity of the rodent lung during compensatory lung regeneration is largely unknown.
Methods: To determine if murine lung regeneration could be detected in vivo, we studied inbred mice 3, 7, 14, and 21 days after left pneumonectomy. The remaining lung was imaged using microCT as well as the glucose tracer 2-deoxy-2-[18 F]fluoro-d-glucose (18FDG) and positron-emission tomography (PET). Because of the compliance of the murine chest wall, reproducible imaging required orotracheal intubation and pressure-controlled ventilation during scanning.
Results: After left pneumonectomy, the right lung progressively enlarged over the first 3 weeks. The cardiac lobe demonstrated the greatest percentage increase in size. Dry weights of the individual lobes largely mirrored the increase in lung volume. PET/CT imaging was used to identify enhanced metabolic activity within the individual lobes. In the cardiac lobe, 18FDG uptake was significantly increased in the day 14 cardiac lobe relative to preoperative values (p < .05). In contrast, the 18FDG uptake in the other three lobes was not statistically significant at any time point.
Conclusions: We conclude that the cardiac lobe is the dominant contributor to compensatory growth after murine pneumonectomy. Further, PET/CT scanning can detect both the volumetric increase and the metabolic changes associated with the regenerative growth in the murine cardiac lobe.