Avian lungs: A novel scaffold for lung bioengineering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Allogeneic lung transplant is limited both by the shortage of available donor lungs and by the lack of suitable long-term lung assist devices to bridge patients to lung transplantation. Avian lungs have different structure and mechanics resulting in more efficient gas exchange than mammalian lungs. Decellularized avian lungs, recellularized with human lung cells, could therefore provide a powerful novel gas exchange unit for potential use in pulmonary therapeutics. To initially assess this in both small and large avian lung models, chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) and emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) lungs were decellularized using modifications of a detergent-based protocol, previously utilized with mammalian lungs. Light and electron microscopy, vascular and airway resistance, quantitation and gel analyses of residual DNA, and immunohistochemical and mass spectrometric analyses of remaining extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins demonstrated maintenance of lung structure, minimal residual DNA, and retention of major ECM proteins in the decellularized scaffolds. Seeding with human bronchial epithelial cells, human pulmonary vascular endothelial cells, human mesenchymal stromal cells, and human lung fibroblasts demonstrated initial cell attachment on decellularized avian lungs and growth over a 7-day period. These initial studies demonstrate that decellularized avian lungs may be a feasible approach for generating functional lung tissue for clinical therapeutics.


  • Sean M Wrenn
  • Ethan D Griswold
  • Franziska E Uhl
  • Juan J Uriarte
  • Heon E Park
  • Amy L Coffey
  • Jacob S Dearborn
  • Bethany A Ahlers
  • Bin Deng
  • Ying-Wai Lam
  • Dryver R Huston
  • Patrick C Lee
  • Darcy E Wagner
  • Daniel J Weiss
External organisations
  • University of Vermont
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0198956
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch