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Abstract

Connective tissue provides dynamic stability to the architecture and mechanical function of the lungs. This study examines the parenchymal connective tissue components of the alveolar ducts, their associated respiratory bronchioles and respective alveoli. Thick sections 100μ and 200μ, and serial sections at 8μ of lungs of different ages were examined histologically after fixation in distention. The varying proportions and spatial architecture of the collagen and elastic fibers and the packing and spatial interrelationships of alveoli were studied using graphic serial reconstruction. Alveolar mouths typically have a polygonal configuration as they arise from the airways. Denser connective tissue passes through the polygonal array and forms a helix encircling the airway. Polygonal packing of alveolar mouths provides a mechanically stable ductular structure with conservation of materials. A helical modification of the polygonal arrangement permits reversible changes in linear and circumferential airway dimensions.