Chronic intermittent hypoxia induces lung growth in adult mice

Christian Reinke, Shannon Bevans-Fonti, Dmitry N. Grigoryev, Luciano F. Drager, Allen C. Myers, Robert A. Wise, Alan R. Schwartz, Wayne Mitzner, Vsevolod Y. Polotsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increases cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, which have been attributed to intermittent hypoxia (IH). The effects of IH on lung structure and function are unknown. We used a mouse model of chronic IH, which mimics the O2 profile in patients with OSA. We exposed adult C57BL/6J mice to 3 mo of IH with a fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2) nadir of 5% 60 times/h during the 12-h light phase. Control mice were exposed to room air. Lung volumes were measured by quasistatic pressure-volume (PV) curves under anesthesia and by water displacement postmortem. Lungs were processed for morphometry, and the mean airspace chord length (Lm) and alveolar surface area were determined. Lung tissue was stained for markers of proliferation (proliferating cell nuclear antigen), apoptosis (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling), and type II alveolar epithelial cells (surfactant protein C). Gene microarrays were performed, and results were validated by real-time PCR. IH increased lung volumes by both PV curves (air vs. IH, 1.16 vs. 1.44 ml, P < 0.0001) and water displacement (P < 0.01) without changes in Lm, suggesting that IH increased the alveolar surface area. IH induced a 60% increase in cellular proliferation, but the number of proliferating type II alveolocytes tripled. There was no increase in apoptosis. IH upregulated pathways of cellular movement and cellular growth and development, including key developmental genes vascular endothelial growth factor A and platelet-derived growth factor B. We conclude that IH increases alveolar surface area by stimulating lung growth in adult mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L266-L273
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Lung function
  • Lung morphometry
  • Microarray
  • Murine model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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