Evidence for adult lung growth in humans

James P. Butler, Stephen H. Loring, Samuel Patz, Akira Tsuda, Dmitriy A. Yablonskiy, Steven J. Mentzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


A 33-year-old woman underwent a right-sided pneumonectomy in 1995 for treatment of a lung adenocarcinoma. As expected, there was an abrupt decrease in her vital capacity, but unexpectedly, it increased during the subsequent 15 years. Serial computed tomographic (CT) scans showed progressive enlargement of the remaining left lung and an increase in tissue density. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with the use of hyperpolarized helium-3 gas showed overall acinar-airway dimensions that were consistent with an increase in the alveolar number rather than the enlargement of existing alveoli, but the alveoli in the growing lung were shallower than in normal lungs. This study provides evidence that new lung growth can occur in an adult human.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-247
Number of pages4
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 19 2012


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