Background. A major pathological finding in human newborns with pulmonary hypoplasia and congenital diaphragmatic hernia is the presence of vascular abnormalities in lungs. Vasculogenesis/angiogenesis are crucial to lung development. To study lung alveolar development, including microvascular formation in fetal lung implants, Schwarz et al.  developed a subcutaneous allograft model. We adopted their model to assess the influence of neovascularization or the "host-graft vascular development" on hypoplastic lung structure and growth. Materials and methods. Normal and hypoplastic lungs at pseudoglandular stage were implanted subcutaneously under the dorsolateral fold of immunocompromised nude mice (athymic, nu/nu). Lung allografts were removed and assessed at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks postimplantation. Results. Neovascularization of implanted lungs from subcutaneous vasculature of nude mice resulted in varying degrees of maturation of implanted normal and hypoplastic lungs. By 4 weeks, implanted normal lungs contained Type 2-like cells and by 7 to 8 weeks, Type 2 and Type 1-like cells, air spaces had enlarged, and surfactant secretion was observed. Despite some differentiation and maturation of hypoplastic lungs, there was more mesenchymal tissue, no secondary septa, and smaller air spaces compared to normal lungs. Conclusions. (a) Neovascularization or host-graft vascular development occurs in both normal and hypoplastic lung allografts. (b) Development and maturation of implanted normal and hypoplastic lungs follow the establishment of the vascular connections between the host and grafts. (c) The host-graft vascular connections do not improve the growth of normal or hypoplastic lungs. (d) Neovascularization failed to overcome the embryonic defects in vascular formation and the pulmonary vasculogenesis remained defective in hypoplastic lung allografts, which may be attributed to the defective endogenous endothelial progenitor cells.
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