Changes in lung permeability and lung mechanics accompany homeostatic instability in senescent mice

Clarke G. Tankersley, Jessica A. Shank, Susan E. Flanders, Shawn E. Soutiere, Richard Rabold, Wayne Mitzner, Elizabeth M. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aging and lung disease are recognized factors that increase mortality risk in subjects exposed to ambient particulate matter (PM). In an effort to understand the mechanisms of enhanced susceptibility, the present study examined an inbred mouse model of senescence to 1) determine changes in lung permeability as animals approach the end-of-life and 2) characterize age-dependent changes in lung mechanics in presenescent and terminally senescent mice. The clearance of technetium-99m ( 99mTc)-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA) was used to test the hypothesis that lung permeability increases with age and enhances uptake of soluble components of PM principally during the period several weeks before death in AKR/J mice. Quasistatic pressure-volume curves were conducted on robust and on terminally senescent AKR/J mice several weeks before death to assess the relative importance of lung mechanics. Abrupt body weight loss was used to signal imminent death because it accompanies indexes of physiological aging and terminal senescence. 99mTc-DTPA clearance from the lung 30 min after tracheal instillation was significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced in senescent mice. Age-dependent changes in lung mechanics were indicative of significant (P < 0.05) decrements in lung volume and compliance several weeks before death. Thus, during a period of homeostatic instability leading toward natural death, AKR/J mice showed enhanced permeability of soluble particles despite a decrease in lung volume and concomitant alveolar surface area. These results suggest that pulmonary epithelial-endothelial barrier dysfunction occurs in terminally senescent mice just before death. Furthermore, this senescent-dependent increase in lung permeability may be a contributing factor for increased PM susceptibility in the elderly and patients with lung disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1687
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Air pollution susceptibility
  • Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid clearance in mice
  • Epithelial-endothelial barrier dysfunction
  • Particulate matter
  • Physiological aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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