Human lungs are forever at risk of being harmed by environmental factors and scientists have tried to answer, how does the lung repair itself?
Cell damage and destruction
Depending on what the lungs are being faced with, cells can be damaged or even destroyed. The human body needs to ensure that these cells are either repaired or replaced and scientists have gained detailed insights into how the lung remodels during repair. The project has been undertaken by the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the results have just been published.
Third biggest killer
According to the World Health Organisation, lung diseases are number three in the list that cause fatalities worldwide. There are a large number of problems that can be created in the lung but they typically come from toxic particles, large inflammatory problems and infections.
How the lungs cope with all the challenges thrown at them have not been completely understood to date. There are no causal treatments in place for most lung diseases so it is vital to establish how the healing process works through inflamemation, fibrosis and resolution.
Process and findings
This is the first time it has been possible to monitor dynamic changes in lung tissue composition throughout the stages of regeneration and it involved more than 8000 proteins being tested. When the pulmonary alveoli are harmed, different proteins are secreted into the extracellular matrix. These proteins are key to establishing the different repair processes including triggering specific stem cell types, which makes the lung tissue restore to its former condition. This is the first time scientists have been successful in quantifying the volume and solubility of the 8000 proteins used in the lung proteome during the process that repairs the tissues.
Uses for the information
These findings from this piece of research will lead to new approaches in the treatment of both lung diseases and lung fibrosis in particular.