New research may explain severe virus attacks on lungs
In a new study, researchers have describe how different kinds of immune cells, called macrophages, develop in the lungs and which of them may be behind severe lung diseases.
The study, which was published in Immunity, may contribute to future treatments for COVID-19, among other diseases.
The researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden said that the structure of the lungs exposes them to viruses and bacteria from both the air and the blood. Macrophages are immune cells that, among other things, protect the lungs from such attacks.
But under certain conditions, lung macrophages can also contribute to severe lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and COVID-19.
To date, research on the development of human lung macrophages has been limited.
Macrophages can have different origins and develop, among other things, from white blood cells, monocytes, that are divided into different genetically determined main types. In humans, two of these are “classical” CD14+ monocytes and “non-classical” CD16+ monocytes.
In a new study at Karolinska Institute, researchers have used a model to study the development of lung macrophages directly in a living lung. This has been combined with a method to study gene activity in individual cells, RNA sequencing, and thereby discovered how blood monocytes become human lung macrophages.