Distribution of particulate matter and tissue remodeling in the human lung

Kent E. Pinkerton, Francis H Y Green, Cathy Saiki, Val Vallyathan, Charles G. Plopper, Venu Gopal, Daniel Hung, Emily B. Bahne, Susan S. Lin, Margaret G. Ménache, Marc B. Schenker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


We examined the relationship betweeen intrapulmonary particle distribution of carbonaceous and mineral dusts and remodeling of the airways along anatomically distinct airway paths in the lungs of Hispanic males from the central valley of California. Lung autopsy specimens from the Fresno County Coroner's Office were prepared by intratracheal instillation of 2% glutaraldehyde at 30 cm H2O pressure. Two distinct airway paths into the apico-posterior and apico-anterior portions of the left upper lung lobe were followed. Tissue samples for histologic analysis were generally taken from the intrapulmonary second, fourth, sixth, and ninth airway generations. Parenchymal tissues beyond the 12th airway generation of each airway path were also analyzed. There was little evidence of visible particle accumulation in the larger conducting airways (generations 2-6), except in bronchial-associated lymphoid tissues and within peribronchial tissue. In contrast, terminal and respiratory bronchioles arising from each pathway revealed varying degrees of wall thickening and remodeling. Walls with marked thickening contained moderate to heavy amounts of carbonaceous and mineral dusts. Wall thickening was associted with increases in collagen and interstitial inflammatory cells, including dust-laden macrophages. These changes were significantly greater in first-generation respiratory bronchioles compared to second- and third- generation respiratory bronchioles. These findings suggests that accumulation of carbonaceous and mineral dust in the lungs is significantly affected by lung anatomy with the greatest retention in centers of lung acini. Furthermore, there is significant remodelling of this transitional zone in humans exposed to ambient particulate matter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1069
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000


  • Asthma
  • California
  • Fibrosis
  • Lung pathology
  • Particulate matter
  • Pigmentation
  • PM
  • PM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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