Stem cells, signaling pathways identified in lung repair

October 11, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers at National Jewish Health have identified cells and signaling molecules that trigger the repair of injured lungs. Stijn De Langhe, PhD, and his colleagues report October 10, 2011, online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, that destruction of lung tissue in mice induces smooth muscle cells surrounding the airways to secrete a protein known as fibroblast growth factor 10 (FGF10), which induces surviving epithelial cells in the airways to revert to a stem-cell state, proliferate, repair and repopulate the lining of the lungs.

“The repair process in the lungs turns out to be very similar to the developmental process that originally formed the lungs,” said Dr. De Langhe, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health. “These findings identify important cells and signaling that could be used in therapeutic strategies to promote repair of injured lungs and turn off aberrant repair that occurs in many diseases.”

In mouse lungs, most cells lining the airways were destroyed as a result of exposure to toxic substances napthalene, ozone or bleomycin. One type, known as variant Clara cells, however, resisted damage from those substances.

In a series of experiments, Dr. De Langhe and his colleagues showed that nearby parabronchial began secreting FGF10 soon after the injury. The FGF caused the variant Clara cells to revert to their original stem-cell state. They proliferated and restored the full complement of epithelial cells lining the airways, thus repairing the injury.

These findings could be valuable for both turning on and off the repair process. In acute lung injury, it could be valuable to augment the repair process. But in other diseases, such as asthma and pulmonary fibrosis, the repair process goes awry leading to scarring or build up of excess cells in the airways. Turning off the repair process might help treat those diseases.

Explore further: New airway stem cell found

Related Stories

New airway stem cell found

June 27, 2011

Researchers at UCLA have identified a new stem cell that participates in the repair of the large airways of the lungs, which play a vital role in protecting the body from infectious agents and toxins in the environment.

Recommended for you

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.