Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 367, Issue 3, pp 687–705 | Cite as

Comparative analysis of the mechanical signals in lung development and compensatory growth

  • Connie C. W. Hsia


This review compares the manner in which physical stress imposed on the parenchyma, vasculature and thorax and the thoraco-pulmonary interactions, drive both developmental and compensatory lung growth. Re-initiation of anatomical lung growth in the mature lung is possible when the loss of functioning lung units renders the existing physiologic-structural reserves insufficient for maintaining adequate function and physical stress on the remaining units exceeds a critical threshold. The appropriate spatial and temporal mechanical interrelationships and the availability of intra-thoracic space, are crucial to growth initiation, follow-on remodeling and physiological outcome. While the endogenous potential for compensatory lung growth is retained and may be pharmacologically augmented, supra-optimal mechanical stimulation, unbalanced structural growth, or inadequate remodeling may limit functional gain. Finding ways to optimize the signal–response relationships and resolve structure-function discrepancies are major challenges that must be overcome before the innate compensatory ability could be fully realized. Partial pneumonectomy reproducibly removes a known fraction of functioning lung units and remains the most robust model for examining the adaptive mechanisms, structure–function consequences and plasticity of the remaining functioning lung units capable of regeneration. Fundamental mechanical stimulus–response relationships established in the pneumonectomy model directly inform the exploration of effective approaches to maximize compensatory growth and function in chronic destructive lung diseases, transplantation and bioengineered lungs.


Mechanotransduction Mechanical stress Lung development Pneumonectomy Lung regeneration 



Supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Grants R01 HL40070 and U01 HL111146. The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute or of the National Institutes of Health.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care MedicineUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, DallasDallasUSA

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