S Farioli-Vecchioli, R Nardacci, I Falciatori, S Stefanini
Histochem Cell Biol
In mammalian lung, type II pneumocytes are especially critical in normal alveolar functioning, as they are the major source of surfactant and the progenitors of type I alveolar cells. Moreover, they undergo proliferation and transformation into type I cells in most types of cellular injury, where flattened type I pneumocytes are selectively destroyed. Hyperplasia of alveolar type II cells has also been described in some human chronic lung diseases. In lung, type II pneumocytes and non-ciliated bronchiolar cells are the unique cell types that contain a considerable amount of peroxisomes. Due to the presence of dihydroxyacetone phosphate acyltransferase and non-specific lipid-transfer protein, these organelles have been suggested to be involved in the synthesis and/or transport of the lipid moiety of surfactant. In the present research, the peroxisomal marker enzyme catalase was immunolocalised at the light microscopic level, utilising the avidin-biotin complex method, in lung specimens excised from newborn, adult and aged rats. In all the examined stages the immunoreactivity was so selective for type II pneumocytes it allowed quantitation of these cells by an automated detection system. This was accomplished on specimens from newborn rat lung, in which labelled alveolar cells were counted by a grey level-based procedure and their main morphometric parameters were determined.