ACTA ZOOLOGICA, vol.97, pp.376-390, 2016 (SCI-Expanded)
The bronchus and vasculature form an intrinsic functional component of the avian lung, and its growth must be tightly regulated and coordinated by lung epithelial and endothelial development. Vascular endothelial growth inhibitor (VEGI), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors (flk1/KDR, flt1/fms, flt4) are required for epithelial and endothelial cell survival and apoptosis. Especially, VEGF and its receptors are critical for the development of the lung and serve as a maintenance factor during adult life. To determine the function of VEGI, VEGF and its receptors in the posthatching lung development, we revealed its expression and localization using by immunohistochemical procedure. VEGI, VEGF and its receptors were observed in the structural components of the bronchi, atria and air capillaries, as well as in the pulmonary blood vessels throughout the posthatching development period. On the other hand, immunostaining for VEGI, VEGF and its receptors was faintly detected in the glands of the secondary bronchi. Furthermore, it was determined that the secondary bronchial and atrial muscles did not display VEGF immunoreactions. Our results showed that VEGF and its receptors (flt1/fms, flk1/KDR and flt4) and VEGI were expressed at varying intensity by different cell groups. Therefore, they are also required for the development of the lung component during posthatching period.