Lung biology research has been well-represented among the rich field of publications in The Anatomical Record. Among the seminal papers published in the Journal's archive is a group of papers that provided the first ultrastructural descriptions of the lung and alveolar type II epithelial cells (Low, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957). This issue of the Journal once again contains a paper on lung biology. The paper is by Folkesson et al. The focus of their paper is the relative cell membrane location of epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) and cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) chloride channels near the end of gestation, when the lung alveolar epithelium rapidly changes from a secretory to an absorptive epithelium. The study's results indicate that ENaC sodium channels appear in the cell membrane of distal lung epithelial cells as gestation progresses to term. Conversely, CFTR chloride channels become less conducive. A series of other experiments led the authors to conclude that β-adrenoreceptor expression sensitizes the lung to the surge in plasma epinephrine that occurs near term. This stimulation, the authors propose, may relocate ENaC subunits to the membrane of distal lung epithelial cells and relocate CFTR away from the membrane. The results of Folkesson's study provide a novel molecular model for the rapid switch to a sodium absorbing epithelium from a chloride-secreting epithelium in the perinatal period.

Publishing the paper by Folkesson and colleagues in this issue of The Anatomical Record is bitter-sweet. Having a novel mechanistic paper on a fundamental process of lung biology during the perinatal period is exciting and important for the Journal. Sadly, no future innovative papers will come to the Journal from Hans Folkesson because he died at the time when this paper was accepted for publication. I knew Hans when he was a postdoctoral fellow with Michael A. Matthay, M.D., at the University of California, San Francisco. I had the honor of being a coauthor with Hans and Michael twice. At his death, Hans was Professor of Physiology at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine and Pharmacy. The lung biology field has lost an innovative thinker, creative scientist, delightful person, and warm friend.


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