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Updated: May 3 2022

Microanatomy of the Lung

  • Overview
    • Airway lining
      • pseudostratified ciliated columnar cells extend to the bronchioles
        • mucus secretions are swept out of the lungs toward the mouth by ciliated cells
        • smoking causes these cells to undergo metaplasia
          • replaced by stratified squamous
      • simple ciliated columnar epithelium extends to the terminal bronchioles
      • ciliated cuboidal cells extend to the respiratory bronchioles
      • alveolar sac are composed of pneumocytes
        • macrophages clear debris in alveoli
      • goblet cells extend to the larger bronchioles but stop before the terminal bronchioles
    • Type I pneumocytes
      • 97% of alveolar surfaces
      • line the alveoli
      • squamous
      • thin for optimal gas diffusion
      • form blood-gas barrier with pulmonary capillary endothelial cells
    • Type II pneumocytes
      • 3% of alveolar surfaces
      • secrete pulmonary surfactant within lamellar bodies
        • dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine
        • lowers the alveolar surface tension
      • cuboidal and clustered
      • serve as precursors to type I cells and other type II cells
      • proliferate during lung damage
    • Club (Clara) cells
      • nonciliated
      • columnar with secretory granules
      • secrete component of surfactant
      • degrade toxins
      • act as reserve cells
    • A lecithin-to-sphingomyelin ratio of > 2.0 in amniotic fluid is indicative of fetal lung maturity
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