Morphology and morphometry of the normal lung of the adult vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops)

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The lungs of four adult specimens of the vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops) have been examined by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. A morphometric evaluation of the structural components directly involved in gas exchange has been carried out and the data have been modelled to estimate the anatomical diffusing capacity of the lung. The upper air‐conducting airways of the lung were lined by an epithelium characterized by ciliated cells among which were dispersed goblet cells. The alveolar surface was lined by squamous type I pneumocytes and cuboidal type II granular pneumocytes. The blood‐gas (tissue) barrier consisted of an epithelial cell, a common basal lamina, and an endothelial cell in the thin parts of the interalveolar septum. In the thicker parts of the septum, an interstitial space interposed between the basal laminae of the epithelial and endothelial cells contained supportive elements such as collagen, elastic tissue, and fibrocytes. The alveoli, the blood capillaries, and septal tissue composed 73%, 16%, and 11%, respectively, of the parenchyma. The harmonic and arithmetic mean thicknesses of the blood‐gas (tissue) barrier were 0.311 μm and 1.048 μm the surface area of the blood‐gas (tissue) barrier per unit body weight was 50 cm2g−1, and the surface density was 117 mm2‐mm3−1.The weight‐specific total morphometric diffusing capacity was 0.11 mlO2 (sec·mbar·kg)−1. In comparison, the pulmonary morphometric characteristics of vervet monkey lung were superior to those of the other primates (Macaca irus, M. mulatta, and Homo sapiens) for which equivalent data are available. The gas‐exchange potential of the lungs of the nonhuman primates as revealed by morphometric studies surpasses that of man, a feature that can be attributed to the relatively less energetic human lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-267
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Anatomy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy


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