Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Breath of Life
20 June 2017

Breath of Life

A baby’s first breath is their first act of independence, but it may also 'teach' their lungs to defend themselves for the rest of their lives. Pictured shortly after birth, a gulp of air stretches and pulls this newborn mouse lung as it expands. These mechanical forces help to produce a chemical called IL-33 (coloured in blue) in a web of small regions called alveoli, where oxygen is passed into the blood stream. IL-33 is essential to helping our lungs’ immune system react to harmful microbes sucked in from the world outside while we carry on breathing thousands of litres of air every day. Researchers are most excited about how these early changes in the lungs can shape a lifelong defence to pollutants and airborne diseases, all stemming from a sharp intake of breath in the first seconds of life.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.