Anatomy and bronchoscopy of the porcine lung. A model for translational respiratory medicine

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2014 Sep;51(3):334-43. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2013-0453TR.


The porcine model has contributed significantly to biomedical research over many decades. The similar size and anatomy of pig and human organs make this model particularly beneficial for translational research in areas such as medical device development, therapeutics and xenotransplantation. In recent years, a major limitation with the porcine model was overcome with the successful generation of gene-targeted pigs and the publication of the pig genome. As a result, the role of this model is likely to become even more important. For the respiratory medicine field, the similarities between pig and human lungs give the porcine model particular potential for advancing translational medicine. An increasing number of lung conditions are being studied and modeled in the pig. Genetically modified porcine models of cystic fibrosis have been generated that, unlike mouse models, develop lung disease similar to human cystic fibrosis. However, the scientific literature relating specifically to porcine lung anatomy and airway histology is limited and is largely restricted to veterinary literature and textbooks. Furthermore, methods for in vivo lung procedures in the pig are rarely described. The aims of this review are to collate the disparate literature on porcine lung anatomy, histology, and microbiology; to provide a comparison with the human lung; and to describe appropriate bronchoscopy procedures for the pig lungs to aid clinical researchers working in the area of translational respiratory medicine using the porcine model.

Keywords: bronchoscopy; lung; porcine; respiratory; translational.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research
  • Biopsy
  • Bronchi / physiology
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Cartilage / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Respiration
  • Swine
  • Translational Research, Biomedical
  • Transplantation, Heterologous