Novel Mechanisms that Regulate Pulmonary Angiogenesis During Postnatal Lung Development

Growth of the pulmonary vasculature by angiogenesis is essential for alveolarization, the final stage of lung development that markedly increases the gas exchange surface area of the lung. Disruption of pulmonary angiogenesis is key to the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), the most common complication of premature birth.  Moreover, the elucidation of pathways that direct pulmonary angiogenesis is likely to have palpable clinical relevance even outside the neonatal period. Recent advances in studying the development of the lung have suggested that alveolarization likely continues until young adulthood. Taken together, this information both broadens the time period when injuries may impact lung structure and growth, and raises the possibility that developmental pathways could be re-invoked in order to regenerate injured alveoli outside of infancy. Thus, the goal of our research program is to identify novel pathways that promote pulmonary angiogenesis so that they might be readily translated into novel therapeutics with potential applicability to lung diseases affecting both children and adults.