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Synonym: Bronchiole
German: Bronchiolus

1 Definition

The bronchioles are small branches of bronchia and a part of the lower airways. They are the first bronchials with no cartilage.

2 Anatomy

The diameter of the bronchioles is less than 1 millimetre. They each branch out further into 4-5 terminal bronchioles and finally into respiratory bronchioles of the so-called transition zone with alveoli already sporadically present in the wall. The respiratory bronchioles end on alveolar ducts in the alveolar sacs (saccus alveolaris).

The lung tissue, which is supplied from a terminal bronchiole, is referred to as pulmonary lobules.

3 Histology

The bronchioles are lined with a single respiratory ciliated epithelium containing no seromucous glands. The epithelial cells have here a cubic rather than cylindrical aspect. Between the epithelial cells, there are goblet cells, neuroendocrine cells and phagocytic cells, the so-called clara cells. Under the epithelium there is a pronounced layer of smooth muscle.

4 Clinic

Inflammation of the bronchioles is referred to as bronchiolitis.

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