Morphometric approaches for evaluating pulmonary toxicity in mammals: Implications for risk assessment

Dallas Melvin Hyde, R. P. Bolender, J. R. Harkema, C. G. Plopper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Recent advances in quantitative morphology provide all the tools necessary to obtain structural information in the lung that can be quantified and interpreted in the three-dimensional world of toxicology. Structural hierarchies of conducting airways and parenchyma of the lung provide: (1) numbers of cells per airway, lobe, or lung; (2) surface areas of cells, airways, and alveoli; (3) length of airways and vessels; and (4) volumes of cells, alveoli, airways, vessels, and individual lobes or the entire lung. Unbiased sampling of these subcompartments of the lung requires fractionation of lobes or individual airways. Individual airways of proximal and distal generations are obtained by airway microdissection along one axial pathway and comparisons made between airway generations. Vertical sections of selected airways are used to sample epithelium and interstitium. Using this unbiased approach of quantitative morphology, we have shown that inhalation of low ambient concentrations of ozone ([O3]0.15 ppm) near or at the United States National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) (0.12 ppm O3) induces significant alterations in bronchiolar epithelium and interstitium in nonhuman primates but not rats. The alterations do not appear to be concentration- or time-dependent, thereby bringing into question the current NAAQS that may be at or above the threshold for distal airway injury in primates. Unbiased morphometric methods are critical in a quantitative evaluation of toxicological injury of mammalian tracheobronchial airways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-302
Number of pages10
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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