Characterization of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α-positive cell lineage during murine late lung development

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2015 Nov 1;309(9):L942-58. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00272.2014. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


A reduced number of alveoli is the structural hallmark of diseases of the neonatal and adult lung, where alveoli either fail to develop (as in bronchopulmonary dysplasia), or are progressively destroyed (as in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). To correct the loss of alveolar septa through therapeutic regeneration, the mechanisms of septa formation must first be understood. The present study characterized platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α-positive (PDGFRα(+)) cell populations during late lung development in mice. PDGFRα(+) cells (detected using a PDGFRα(GFP) reporter line) were noted around the proximal airways during the pseudoglandular stage. In the canalicular stage, PDGFRα(+) cells appeared in the more distal mesenchyme, and labeled α-smooth muscle actin-positive tip cells in the secondary crests and lipofibroblasts in the primary septa during alveolarization. Some PDGFRα(+) cells appeared in the mesenchyme of the adult lung. Over the course of late lung development, PDGFRα(+) cells consistently expressed collagen I, and transiently expressed markers of mesenchymal stem cells. With the use of both, a constitutive and a conditional PDGFRα(Cre) line, it was observed that PDGFRα(+) cells generated alveolar myofibroblasts including tip cells of the secondary crests, and lipofibroblasts. These lineages were committed before secondary septation. The present study provides new insights into the time-dependent commitment of the PDGFRα(+) cell lineage to lipofibroblasts and myofibroblasts during late lung development that is needed to better understand the cellular contribution to the process of alveolarization.

Keywords: fibroblast precursor; lipofibroblast; myofibroblast; septation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Collagen Type I / biosynthesis
  • Collagen Type I / genetics
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / embryology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myofibroblasts / cytology*
  • Myofibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / embryology*
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha / genetics
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Collagen Type I
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha