How to Breathe Easier

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Science  25 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6059, pp. 1035
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6059.1035-b
CREDIT: KUMAR ET AL., CELL 147, 525 (2011)

Although few organisms are able to fully regenerate new tissue after injury, tissue can often be repaired. The specific mechanisms that drive such repair, however, are not fully elucidated. Two studies use different models of lung injury in mice to uncover mechanisms that drive lung repair and regeneration. Kumar et al. infected mice with influenza A virus, severe cases of which can cause extensive, life-threatening lung pathology in humans. Despite early damage to lungs after infection, they had essentially returned to normal 3 months later. Repair was initiated by stem cells that proliferated in the bronchiolar epithelium and migrated to sites of damage, where they formed clusters around bronchioles and differentiated into alveolar structures destroyed by the infection. Taking a different approach, Ding et al. surgically removed the left lung of mice, which is known to drive the formation of more alveoli in the remaining lung. Pulmonary capillary endothelial cells initiated this regeneration by producing angiocrine factors, which promoted the proliferation of epithelial progenitor cells. Studies such as these may aid in the development of therapies to treat lung pathologies.

Cell 147, 525; 539 (2011).

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