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Simple Squamous Epithelium: The Lung

As mentioned in the overview, epithelia are cellular linings or coverings. Of these,


perhaps none are thinner or more delicate than the simple squamous epithelia that line
the lungs and capillaries. Figures A and B are a matched pair of light and electron
micrographs of serial sections taken through the monkey lung that clearly show the
super-thin nature of the epithelia that line the alveoli of the lungs and the capillaries that
course through them.

The lung is designed to move material across its borders rapidly. In an average day of
rest, a person's lungs exchange some 550 L (138 gal; 17 ft â ‰ ¥) of oxygen and carbon
dioxide between blood and the atmosphere. This extremely rapid and efficient gas
exchange is facilitated by the design of the thin, gossamer-like epithelium lining the lung's
airspaces, or alveoli, and their associated capillaries.

Both Alveolus and capillary are lined by a single layer of flat cells that provide an
excellent example of simple Squamous Epithelium. Figures A and B at right are light and
electron micrographs of sections taken through an Interalveolar Septum - a wall
separating two adjacent alveoli - in the lung of the macaque. Here, the air-filled alveolar
spaces (A) lie above and below the interalveolar Septum itself (S). The lung, of course, is
highly vascular, and many capillaries (C) supply the Interalveolar Septum with blood.
Although details of its construction are not evident by light microscopy (Figure A), the
extreme flatness of the Interalveolar Septum's simple squamous epithelia is nevertheless
apparent. The barrier interposed between blood and air can be as thin as 0.15um,
approaching the limit of resolution of the light microscope. When the area enclosed within
the circle is viewed by electron microscopy, as in Figure B, one can see that the wall of
the Septum is actually two cell layers thick - each layer consisting of the simple
squamous epithelium lining the Alveolus and the simple squamous epithelium lining the
adjacent capillary. This construction is evident in the area indicated by the arrow. Here,
the two epithelia have pulled apart and are seen to be separated by an artifactual space
in which splayed connective tissue fibrils (CT) are evident. The prominent Nucleus (N)
helps to identify the capillary endothelial cell to which it belongs.

The epithelial cells that line capillaries are routinely referred to as endothelial cells, and
the capillary epithelium is called an Endothelium - a term reserved for the layer of flat
cells lining blood vessels, lymph vessels, and other cavities. A structure called the
basement membrane underlies the capillary Endothelium as with all epithelia. The
Basement Membrane varies in thickness. In some epithelia it is visible by light
microscopy. When viewed with the electron microscope, the Basement Membrane is
seen to consist of a thin, amorphous feltwork, some 500 to 800 â ‰ ˆ thick, called the
Basal Lamina, closely associated with small bundles of reticular fibers embedded in a
protein-Polysaccharide Ground Substance. As its name suggests, the basement
membrane always covers the bottom of an epithelium and separates the epithelium from
the structures that it overlies.

Figures A and B. Matched pair of light and electron micrographs of nearly serial
sections taken through the lung of the macaque. A, alveolar space; B, (Figure B
only) Basement Membrane; C, capillary; CT, connective tissue fibrils (Figure B
only); E, Erythrocyte; N, Nucleus of capillary endothelial cell; S, Interalveolar
Septum; 1, alveolar epithelium; 2, capillary epithelium (Endothelium); circle,
attenuated region of interalveolar Septum; arrow, artifactual separation of alveolar
and capillary epithelia. Figure A, 2,000 X; Figure B, 8,500 X 26
http://www.visualhistology.com/Visual_Histology_Atlas/VHA_Chpt2_Epithelia.html

Human Pathology Digital Image Gallery

Bronchopneumonia

Bronchopneumonia, or bronchial pneumonia, is a type of pneumonia that originates in


the bronchioles of the lungs, which are the smaller ducts of the bronchial tubes. The
contagious infection is caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and other
microorganisms.
In previously healthy individuals that acquire the illness, Streptococcus and
Staphylococcus infections are among the most common causes, but individuals whose
pulmonary defense systems are already weakened from another ailment, such as chronic
bronchitis, are more likely to be infected by Klebsiella or Pseudomona bacteria. When
any of these microorganisms find their way into the body through the respiratory system,
they are disseminated through the bloodstream and settle in the bronchiolar epithelium,
causing acute inflammation that extends into the surrounding alveoli.

Symptoms of bronchopneumonia are similar to other types of pneumonia and may


include fatigue, a productive cough, fever, chills, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. The
skin of individuals with the disease may also take on a bluish hue in advanced cases
when enough oxygen is not available to the blood. The administration of oxygen is often
necessary for such patients. Other types of treatment frequently provided to individuals
with bronchopneumonia are dependent on the causative agent. Antibiotics are effective
against many bacterial forms of the illness, but not viral pneumonias. Bed rest, use of a
humidifier, and plenty of fluids are generally recommended for all cases of the disease.

Infants and the elderly are particularly susceptible to bronchopneumonia, but anyone
may contract the disease. Pneumococcal vaccinations are recommended for individuals
in high-risk groups and provide up to 80 percent effectiveness in staving off
pneumococcal pneumonia. Influenza vaccinations are also frequently of use in
decreasing one’s susceptibility to pneumonia, since the flu precedes pneumonia
development in many cases. Vaccinations are often credited with significantly decreasing
the threat of pneumonia, as are antibiotics. In the first half of the twentieth century before
antibiotic drugs were developed, approximately one-third of all people who contracted
pneumonia died of the disease. Today, more than 95 percent of all patients recover when
they receive proper medical treatment.

Human Pathology Digital Image Gallery

Bronchopneumonia
Symptoms of bronchopneumonia are similar to other types of pneumonia and may include
fatigue, a productive cough, fever, chills, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. The skin of
individuals with the disease may also take on a bluish hue in advanced cases when enough
oxygen is not available to the blood. The administration of oxygen is often necessary for such
patients. Other types of treatment frequently provided to individuals with bronchopneumonia are
dependent on the causative agent. Antibiotics are effective against many bacterial forms of the
illness, but not viral pneumonias. Bed rest, use of a humidifier, and plenty of fluids are generally
recommended for all cases of the disease.

Human Pathology Digital Image Gallery

Bronchopneumonia
Infants and the elderly are particularly susceptible to bronchopneumonia, but anyone may
contract the disease. Pneumococcal vaccinations are recommended for individuals in high-risk
groups and provide up to 80 percent effectiveness in staving off pneumococcal pneumonia.
Influenza vaccinations are also frequently of use in decreasing one’s susceptibility to pneumonia,
since the flu precedes pneumonia development in many cases. Vaccinations are often credited
with significantly decreasing the threat of pneumonia, as are antibiotics. In the first half of the
twentieth century before antibiotic drugs were developed, approximately one-third of all people
who contracted pneumonia died of the disease. Today, more than 95 percent of all patients
recover when they receive proper medical treatment. Nevertheless, pneumonia is still a highly
destructive force, together with influenza ranking as the seventh leading cause of death in the
United States.
http://www.microscopyu.com/galleries/pathology/bronchopneumonia.html