Structural and biochemical changes in rat lungs occurring during exposures to lethal and adaptive doses of oxygen

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1980 Jul;122(1):123-43. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1980.122.1.123.


The lungs of rats exposed to 100% O2 until death and to 85% O2 for as long as 14 days were studied using morphometric and biochemical techniques. The primary injury leading to death in rats exposed to 100% O2 was injury to the pulmonary capillary endothelium, where 44% of the endothelial cells were destroyed; there was a corresponding decrease in capillary surface area and in capillary lumen volume. Animals exposed to 85% O2 had proliferation and hypertrophy of alveolar Type II epithelial cells. In addition, 41% of the capillary endothelial cells were destroyed, but the endothelial cells that survived 7 days in 85% O2 were hypertrophied, and after this point no further destruction of the pulmonary capillary bed took place. Exposures to 85% O2 led to enhanced activity of the copper-zinc and manganese superoxide dismutases, which might be related to the apparently adaptive structural changes that occurred in the alveolar Type II epithelium and in the capillary endothelial cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Capillaries / pathology
  • Endothelium / pathology
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Extracellular Space / cytology
  • Lung / blood supply
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Oxygen / poisoning*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / pathology
  • Rats
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen