Phase contrast imaging reveals low lung volumes and surface areas in the developing marsupial
Simpson, SJ and Siu, KKW and Yagi, N and Whitley, JC and Lewis, RA and Frappell, PB, Phase contrast imaging reveals low lung volumes and surface areas in the developing marsupial, PLoS ONE, 8, (1) Article e53805. ISSN 1932-6203 (2013) [Refereed Article]
Marsupials are born with immature lungs when compared to eutherian mammals and rely, to various extents, on cutaneous gas exchange in order to meet metabolic requirements. Indeed, the fat-tailed dunnart is born with lungs in the canalicular stage of development and relies almost entirely on the skin for gas exchange at birth; consequently undergoing the majority of lung development in air. Plane radiographs and computed tomography data sets were acquired using phase contrast imaging with a synchrotron radiation source for two marsupial species, the fat-tailed dunnart and the larger tammar wallaby, during the first weeks of postnatal life. Phase contrast imaging revealed that only two lung sacs contain air after the first hour of life in the fat-tailed dunnart. While the lung of the tammar wallaby was comparatively more developed, both species demonstrated massive increases in air sac number and architectural complexity during the postnatal period. In addition, both the tammar wallaby and fat-tailed dunnart had lower lung volumes and parenchymal surface areas than were expected from morphometrically determined allometric equations relating these variables to body mass during the neonatal period. However, lung volume is predicted to scale with mass as expected after the neonatal marsupial reaches a body mass of ~1 g and no longer relies on the skin for gas exchange. Decreased lung volume in the marsupial neonate further supports the maxim that cutaneous gas exchange occurs in the marsupial neonate because the respiratory apparatus is not yet capable of meeting the gas exchange requirements of the newborn.
air sac, tissue, body mass, computer assisted tomography, gas exchange, imaging and display, lung development, parenchyma, structure, surface area, lung volume, marsupial, morphometrics, newborn period, phase contrast imaging, postnatal development