The human fetal lung Xenograft: Validation as model of microvascular remodeling in the postglandular lung

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Coordinated remodeling of epithelium and vasculature is essential for normal postglandular lung development. The value of the human-to-rodent lung xenograft as model of fetal microvascular development remains poorly defined.


The aim of this study was to determine the fate of the endogenous (human-derived) microvasculature in fetal lung xenografts.


Lung tissues were obtained from spontaneous pregnancy losses (14–22 weeks' gestation) and implanted in the renal subcapsular or dorsal subcutaneous space of SCID-beige mice (T, B, and NK-cell-deficient) and/or nude rats (T-cell-deficient). Informed parental consent was obtained. Lung morphogenesis, microvascular angiogenesis, and epithelial differentiation were assessed at 2 and 4 weeks post-transplantation by light microscopy, immunohistochemical, and gene expression studies. Archival age-matched postmortem lungs served as control.


The vascular morphology, density, and proliferation of renal subcapsular grafts in SCID-beige mice were similar to age-matched control lungs, with preservation of the physiologic association between epithelium and vasculature. The microvasculature of subcutaneous grafts in SCID-beige mice was underdeveloped and dysmorphic, associated with significantly lower VEGF, endoglin, and angiopoietin-2 mRNA expression than renal grafts. Grafts at both sites displayed mild airspace dysplasia. Renal subcapsular grafts in nude rats showed frequent infiltration by host lymphocytes and obliterating bronchiolitis-like changes, associated with markedly decreased endogenous angiogenesis.


This study demonstrates the critical importance of host and site selection to ensure optimal xenograft development. When transplanted to severely immune suppressed, NK-cell-deficient hosts and engrafted in the renal subcapsular site, the human-to-rodent fetal lung xenograft provides a valid model of postglandular microvascular lung remodeling. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2012; 47:1192–1203. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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