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Clinical Science
March 21, 1964

The Fine Structure of the Normal Human Alveolocapillary Membrane

Author Affiliations

Rochester, Minn

From the Section of Medicine (Dr. Divertie) and the Section of Experimental and Anatomic Pathology (Dr. Brown) Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation.

JAMA. 1964;187(12):938-941. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060250056012

When WILLIAM ADDISON1 suggested in 1842 that the pulmonary alveoli might be lined by a continuous epithelium, he touched off a controversy which continued for the next 100 years. In 1947 the late William Snow Miller2 in his monograph The Lung stated emphatically that an epithelial lining did exist, but he conceded that there was still a great deal of disagreement on the subject. Among those who agreed that an epithelial lining was present in the normal alveoli, further differences of opinion existed as to whether this was a continuous epithelial lining of nucleated cells or whether small cuboidal nucleated cells were interspersed with non-nucleated plaques. As recently as 1954,3 the conclusion following an electron microscopic study carried out on rat lung was that the evidence for existence of a continuous epithelial lining or of alveolar lining plaques was lacking. Since that time electron microscopic studies have

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