Scanning Microscopy


Pulmonary aggregation of inhaled 239PuO2 particles leads to a cellular evolution of focal inflammation, fibrosis, epithelial dysplasia and lung tumor formation. Female Wistar rats were exposed to an aerosol of high-fired 239PuO2 (initial lung burden, 3.9 kBq) and the lungs examined at intervals from 1 day to 700 days after exposure by light and scanning electron microscopy and autoradiography. Peribronchiolar Pu particle aggregation increased with time, resulting in well-defined focal inflammatory lesions after 120 days and fibrotic lesions after 180 days. A generalized hypertrophy and hyperplasia of nonciliated bronchiolar cells was seen at 15 days and type II cell hyperplasia by 30 days after exposure. Focal dysplastic changes in type II alveolar epithelium and terminal nonciliated bronchiolar epithelium preceded carcinoma formation. Alveolar bronchiolarization was first noted at 120 days, squamous metaplasia at 210 days, squamous carcinoma at 270 days and adenocarcinoma at 600 days after exposure.

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