Lung Stem Cells Crucial in Regenerating the Airway After Severe Injury

by Anjali Aryamvally on  April 14, 2018 at 12:13 PM Research News
RSS Email Print This Page Comment bookmark
Font : A-A+

A new population of stem cells that appear to be important for regenerating the airway following severe injury was identified by a research team at the University of Iowa while working on mice. The study is published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
Lung Stem Cells Crucial in Regenerating the Airway After Severe Injury
Lung Stem Cells Crucial in Regenerating the Airway After Severe Injury

The cells, known as glandular myoepithelial cells (MECs), were found to be surprisingly flexible. The MECs are also able to develop into new replacement cells within their local environment, known as submucosal glands. More surprisingly, the MECs were also shown to be "reserve" stem cells for the lining of the airway, springing into action when the surface of the airway experiences severe damage, and developing into replacement cells there, too.

The human airway is a system of branching tubes that connects the nose and mouth with the lungs and allows us to inhale air, extract the vital oxygen, and exhale the waste product carbon dioxide. A layer of epithelial cells helps protect airways from harmful materials in the air we breathe. However, the cells that make up this first line of defense are vulnerable to damage and rely on local stem cells to repair and renew the barrier after injury.

"We demonstrated that MECs can self-renew and differentiate into seven distinct cell types in the airway," says study co-first author Preston Anderson, a UI undergraduate working in the lab of John Engelhardt, UI professor and DEO of anatomy and cell biology. "No other cell type in the lung has been identified with this much stem cell plasticity."

Because humans have submucosal glands throughout the airway, this specialized niche for MECs may play a significant role in lung regeneration and disease.

The team further investigated the signaling mechanisms controlling the MECs regenerative ability. Focusing on a transcription factor protein called Lef-1 that they had previously shown to be important in glandular development, the researchers found that upregulation of Lef-1 enhances the ability of MECs to migrate, proliferate, and differentiate. Moreover, overexpression of Lef-1 in MECs was sufficient to activate the cells' regenerative response even in the absence of airway injury.

This finding suggests that manipulating Lef-1 signaling in MECs could have major implications for developing practical regenerative medicine approaches to treat airway diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis.

"We have identified a potentially important stem cell target and defined a central mechanism that engages stem cell regeneration," says Thomas Lynch, PhD, UI postdoctoral researcher and co-first author of the study. "We hope this new knowledge accelerates the development of regenerative medicines such as gene therapies and pharmaceuticals for lung diseases."



Source: Eurekalert

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
Notify me when reply is posted
I agree to the terms and conditions
Advertisement

Recommended Reading

More News on:

Athletes Foot Stem Cells - Cord Blood Stem Cells - Fundamentals Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Genetics and Stem Cells Pneumoconiosis Silicosis Bone Marrow Transplantation Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Stem Cells 

News A - Z

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

News Search

Medindia Newsletters

Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Find a Doctor

Stay Connected

  • Available on the Android Market
  • Available on the App Store

News Category

News Archive