Characterization of spontaneous air space enlargement in mice lacking microfibrillar-associated protein 4

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2015 Jun 1;308(11):L1114-24. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00351.2014. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


Microfibrillar-associated protein 4 (MFAP4) is localized to elastic fibers in blood vessels and the interalveolar septa of the lungs and is further present in bronchoalveolar lavage. Mfap4 has been previously suggested to be involved in elastogenesis in the lung. We tested this prediction and aimed to characterize the pulmonary function changes and emphysematous changes that occur in Mfap4-deficient (Mfap4(-/-)) mice. Significant changes included increases in total lung capacity and compliance, which were evident in Mfap4(-/-) mice at 6 and 8 mo but not at 3 mo of age. Using in vivo breath-hold gated microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) in 8-mo-old Mfap4(-/-) mice, we found that the mean density of the lung parenchyma was decreased, and the low-attenuation area (LAA) was significantly increased by 14% compared with Mfap4(+/+) mice. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) did not reveal differences in the organization of elastic fibers, and there was no difference in elastin content, but a borderline significant increase in elastin mRNA expression in 3-mo-old mice. Stereological analysis showed that alveolar surface density in relation to the lung parenchyma and total alveolar surface area inside of the lung were both significantly decreased in Mfap4(-/-) mice by 25 and 15%, respectively. The data did not support an essential role of MFAP4 in pulmonary elastic fiber organization or content but indicated increased turnover in young Mfap4(-/-) mice. However, Mfap4(-/-) mice developed a spontaneous loss of lung function, which was evident at 6 mo of age, and moderate air space enlargement, with emphysema-like changes.

Keywords: MFAP4; air space enlargement; gene deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Elastin / genetics
  • Elastin / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / deficiency
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / deficiency
  • Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / genetics*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Respiration
  • Transcriptome


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • MFAP4 protein, mouse
  • Elastin