Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Precision Energy

The energy demands in the development of the lung's alveoli revealed

30 June 2022

Precision Energy

Miniature model-makers know that intense focus on precise details can require as much energy as running a marathon. A new study into early lung development has shown that constructing the final fine details demand the most energetic input. Scientists have a good understanding of the sequence of structural changes that lead to the formation of alveoli, the delicate air sacs at the tips of millions of microscopic branches of the lungs, but the energy demands of this process were less well known. Researchers examined the location and activity of mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell – and found them unevenly distributed in the lungs of newborn mice (pictured, clustered mitochondria in red). They were more densely packed where septa, tiny internal divisions within alveoli, form, showing this fine production is energy-intensive. Mapping biological energy requirements could help manage healthy development or slow down disease progression.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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