The scientists found that transplanting a certain type of lung cell from healthy mice to those that had been injured by an infection with influenza could improve healing. The transplant -- achieved by taking specialized lung cells called alveolar type-two (AT2) cells from the healthy animals and then allowing the sick animals to simply breathe in the cells -- led to improved blood-oxygen levels.
"We took this really simple approach," says Andrew Vaughan, senior author on the paper and an assistant professor in Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine, "and asked if we could supplement back these AT2 cells into injured mice, can we make them better, can we improve lung regeneration?"
Humans - Aaron - Weiner - Author - Study
"Imagine if this were in humans," adds Aaron Weiner, lead author on the study and a graduate student in Vaughan's lab. "If there were a bad flu season coming up, it could be routine to say, can you take some of my AT2 cells, grow them up for me, and if I get sick you can just put them back in to help me recover. That biobank idea is what we're imagining."
The study appears in the journal Regenerative Medicine.
Work - Vaughan - Colleagues - Outcomes - Injury
Earlier work by Vaughan and colleagues had focused on the negative outcomes that can arise following injury to the lung, such as a serious infection. In the current investigation, they attempted to recreate a healthy recovery in mice that had been infected with the flu. The healing process involves AT2 cells, which normally produce surfactant, a substance that lowers surface tension in the lung's alveoli to ensure proper function. But AT2 cells can also take on a stem cell-like activity, able to both self-renew and to give rise to alveolar type 1 (AT1) cells, which are responsible for gas exchange in the lungs.
Weiner, Vaughan, and colleagues decided to try to take advantage of...
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