New Insights Into Lung Damage And Repair Relevant To Covid-19

Lungs that have sustained severe damage from diseases such as Covid-19 or Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) are characterized by the abnormal presence of basal cells in the tiny air sacs, known as alveoli, of the lungs. These misplaced basal cells interrupt the healing process, often leading to impaired lung function and even death.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco set out to learn why and how this happens. Released in Nature Cell Biology and co-led by Jaymin Kathiriya, Ph.D. and Chaoqun Wang, Ph.D., the report details a novel stem cell pathway in seriously injured lungs; specifically, the researchers discovered that human alveolar epithelial type 2 cells (hAEC2s) can turn into basal cells in response to signals sent by damaged and scarred mesenchyme tissue.

Our lungs are massively complex organs with many different components. The alveoli represent one part of this equation, helping to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide between inhaled air and the bloodstream. Within the alveoli, AEC2 cells are responsible for maintenance and regeneration should anything bad happen. Basal cells, in turn, are mostly found in the conducting airways, a different section of the lung. Here they replace damaged cells and remodel the epithelium as needed in response to injury.

Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.