Diagrammatic representation of the relationship between the visceral and parietal pleurae. The visceral pleura (VP) and the parietal pleura (PP) are seen in close apposition separated by a pleural space that contains a small volume of pleural fluid (pf). Contact between the 2 pleurae is made via the mesothelial cell layers (m) on the surface of the parietal and visceral pleurae. Pleural macrophages (PM) are present in the pleural space. The rigid chest wall is tightly locked to the lungs by the adherence of the visceral pleura to the parietal pleura allowing movements of the chest wall caused by the action of the diaphragmatic muscle and intercostal muscle (IM) to expand and relax the lungs, allowing pulmonary inspiration and expiration. The pathway for particles to reach the pleural space is unknown but the path for an airborne particle (1) that deposits in the distal alveoli (2) is shown as it passes into the interstitium (3) enters the pleural space (4) and exits through a stoma in the parietal pleura (s) into a lymphatic capillary (lc, 5) to enter the lymph flow to the lymph nodes in the mediastinum and central lung.
Donaldson et al. Particle and Fibre Toxicology 2010 7:5 doi:10.1186/1743-8977-7-5