Bernard, S., D. L. Luchtel, N. Polissar, M. P. Hlastala and S. Lakshminarayan. Structure and size of bronchopulmonary anastomoses in sheep lung. Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol. 286A:804-813, 2005.

The distribution and drainage of bronchial arterial blood flow are complex. We used two different methods to study the bronchial-pulmonary anastomoses in sheep lung. Initially, we injected two different sizes of fluorescent microspheres (15 and 100 mum diameter) into the bronchial artery and histologically determined where the different-size microspheres were entrapped in the lung. In a second series of animals, we injected Microfil into the bronchial artery to observe the anastomotic vessels. The microsphere data confirmed the existence of bronchial-to-pulmonary anastomoses. No microspheres were found in the systemic organs (heart and kidney), confirming the absence of large bronchial artery-to-pulmonary vein anastomoses. Unexpectedly, proportionately more large microspheres (100 mum) lodged in the alveolar parenchyma when compared to 15 mum microspheres. This suggests that there are many more small bronchial (< 100 mum) arterioles feeding the airway mucosa than the larger anastomotic vessels feeding into the parenchyma. In the Microfil cast lungs, we observed four types of anastomotic vessels: bronchial arteries/arterioles that anastomose with pulmonary arteries/arterioles that accompany airways; bronchial arterioles that anastomose directly with parenchymal (and eventually alveolar) vessels; bronchial arterioles that anastomose with blood vessels that do not accompany airways; and bronchial arterioles that anastomose with bronchial veins. Based on our in vivo microsphere data, the vessels that do not accompany the airways are most likely bronchial venules, not pulmonary venules. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.