Recommended reads: lung stem cells, Utah stem cell law, Ozzy gets cells

We’ve known that most organs have resident stem cell populations for decades, but things have been less clear in the lung and it has only been relatively recently that lung stem cells have been definitively characterized. Why is so important? Lung stem cells, whether endogenous or made in the lab, have the potential to help treat many respiratory diseases. I know from communicating with many patients who’ve reached out, that there’s huge interest in stem cells for COPD and other lung conditions. Two new papers related to lung stem cells, one endogenous and the other lab-grown, give this area a nice boost. Let’s start there.

normal lung alveoli indicating examples at1 and at2 cells, lung stem cells
Normal lung alveoli indicating examples of type 1 and type 2 pneumocytes, also known as at1 and at2 cells. Could some type 1 cells be akin to lung stem cells?

Lung stem cells

I teach about pulmonary histology here at UC Davis School of Medicine including the lungs.

In that course pulmonary session, we talk quite a bit about different cells and structures including those deep in the lungs. One such structure is called a hillock, which has been somewhat mysterious. We also teach about type I pneumocytes, which could have relevance for lung repair. This week we have papers on both hillocks and type I pneumocytes, in each case related to stem cells.

It’s cool that hillocks have stem cells, which could have reparative functions.

Some also speculated that type I pneumocytes might have stem or progenitor-like properties. Type I pneumocytes cover all of the alveolar surfaces of the lungs, where gas exchange happens. These super thing cells along with thing endothelial cells lining lung capillaries, together bring gas in the lungs close to blood. If you can make unlimited numbers of type I pneumocytes in the lab, they could be used for repair as well with transplant.

Other recommended reads

1 thought on “Recommended reads: lung stem cells, Utah stem cell law, Ozzy gets cells”

  1. Thank you for the highly interesting papers on pulmonary endogenous stem cells.

    About Ozzy, I feel it ie irresponsible to take stem cells if you have any neoplasia…would love your thoughts

    Thomas Ichim

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