Immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy were used to clarify the cellular origin for plutonium-239-induced pulmonary proliferative (preneoplastic) epithelial lesions and epithelial neoplasms in F344 rats. Examples of each histologic type of proliferative lesion and neoplasm were stained by the avidin-biotin complex immunoperoxidase method using antibodies to rat surfactant apoprotein and Clara cell antigen. Rat surfactant apoprotein immunostaining was detected in type II pneumocytes in sections of normal lung, in the cells of the proliferative lesions classified histologically as alveolar epithelial hyperplasia (51) and mixed foci (alveolar epithelial hyperplasia with fibrosis) (30), and in adenomas (2), adenocarcinomas (3), and adenosquamous carcinomas (2). With the exception of one adenosquamous carcinoma, Clara cell antigen immunostaining was not detected in any of the pulmonary lesions but was detected in nonciliated cuboidal epithelial (Clara) cells in normal bronchioles. The epithelial cells of the proliferative lesions and neoplasms had ultrastructural features consistent with type II pneumocytes, i.e., the presence of cytoplasmic lamellar and multivesicular bodies. The results of these studies indicate that the majority of plutonium-induced proliferative epithelial lesions and neoplasms in the rat originate from alveolar type II pneumocytes.
- type II pneumocytes
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