Hypoxia and incorporation of 3H-thymidine by cells of the rat pulmonary arteries and alveolar wall

Am J Pathol. 1979 Jul;96(1):51-70.


In the pulmonary arterial circulation hypoxia produces increase in thickness of the medial muscle coat as well as of the adventitia; in addition muscle appears in smaller arteries than is normal and the number of small arteries that fill on Micropaque-gelatin injection is reduced. To assess the role of hyperplasia in these changes, the uptake of 3H-thymidine by the cells of the pulmonary arterial wall has been studied in rats exposed to hypobaric hypoxia (exposure to 380 torr) after 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 14 days. Using autoradiographs of 1-micron sections, the glutaraldehyde-distended intrapulmonary hilar muscular artery, the peripheral, intraacinar arteries less than 100 micron in external diameter, and the alveolar wall had different patterns of uptake. In the hilar pulmonary artery, after 24 hours of exposure, the labeling index for adventitial fibroblasts is increased eightfold over the control value, and for endothelial cells, threefold, while for medial smooth muscle cells, there is a gradual and small increase to Day 14. Newly muscularized intraacinar arteries are first apparent at Day 3, when they comprise 40% of the intraacinar arteries, increasing to 80% at Day 7. No decrease in density of arteries is found. Uptake of 3H-thymidine by new muscle cells is not apparent until Day 5 when labeling is maximum. The endothelial cells of the newly muscularized arteries show an increased labeling index only at Days 7 and 10. The veins and normally muscular arteries do not show these changes. In the alveolar walls, the concentration of labeled cells is significantly above the control value at Days 3, 5, and 7 and significantly below, at Day 14. At this level, the interstitial, epithelial, and endothelial cells contribute to the increase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Endothelium / pathology
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Hyperplasia
  • Hypoxia / pathology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth / pathology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Thymidine*


  • Thymidine