The lung of the marmoset (Callithrix jacchus): ultrastructure and morphometric data.

Respiration physiology

PubMedID: 10773246

Barbier A, Bachofen H. The lung of the marmoset (Callithrix jacchus): ultrastructure and morphometric data. Respir Physiol. 2000;120(2):167-77.
Owing to its small size (body weight 300-400 g), its modest demands on animal husbandry, and in particular its relatively long life-span (up to 12 years) the common marmoset (cotton ear marmoset: Callithrix jacchus (Cj)) might be a useful animal model to study the adaptive capacity to different energetic demands, adverse environmental influences such as air pollution, and aging of the lung. In order to describe the gas exchange apparatus of healthy marmosets as a basis for further pulmonary research, the lungs of three young adult animals have been analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively (by morphometry) at the light and electronmicroscopic level. Qualitatively, there is a general similarity in the architecture and structure of lung parenchyma between marmosets and other mammals. Quantitatively, the alveolar surface area was found to be 7662+/-1647 cm(2). Capillary surface area and volume were 6000+/-1549 cm(2), and 1. 01+/-0. 34 ml, respectively. The harmonic mean thickness of the air-blood barrier was 0. 517+/-0. 117 microm. These morphometric parameters allowed to estimate the diffusing capacity for oxygen at 0. 0299+/-0. 0134 ml O(2) (sec mmHg)(-1). In comparison with mammals of similar body size (rats, quinea pigs) it appears that the marmoset has a higher gas exchanging capacity of the lung, which might reflect the 'athletic' activity of this small primate. An incidental finding worth mentioning is the individual variability of septal structures due to variations in capillary blood volume and hematocrit. The distinction between such functional variations and subtle pathologic alterations of lung tissue requires a morphometric analysis at the electron-microscopic level.