Lung airway stem cells awry in cystic fibrosis

Recent research from the University of Iowa suggests that people with cystic fibrosis have fewer of the stem cells that would normally repair the airway.

In most people, glands in the airway secrete bacteria-killing factors to help fight infection. These glands are also home to airway stem cells that rebuild the glands and keep them functioning normally. The Iowa team found that in people with CF, the airway stem cells had packed up and moved to the surface of airway rather than being nestled in the protective glands.

The team didn’t find a clear cause and effect, but they suggest that with fewer airway stem cells, those glands are less able to repair themselves and secrete factors to help ward off infection. John Engelhardt, Roy J. Carver Chair in Molecular Medicine and professor and head of anatomy and cell biology who led the research, suggests that the next step might be to learn how to manipulate the environment, or stem cell niche, of those glands so that the stem cells will stay put and keep the glands functioning properly. Such a therapy could help prevent the infections that wreak such havoc on people with CF.

A University of Iowa press release quotes Engelhardt:

“This is the first demonstration that lung stem cell niches may be altered in CF.” … “The future excitement of these findings relates to the potential of manipulating lung stem cells through neuropeptides or their inhibitors.”

The work was published in the July 18 issue of July 18 issue of Journal of Clinical Investigation.


3 thoughts on “Lung airway stem cells awry in cystic fibrosis

  1. I live in florida. I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 6. Here in my country, there aren't any doctors who are specialized in the disease, so I have to go every 3 to 6 months to the USA to get checked. I have to admit that living with CF isn't easy, but talking with others that have it can help you a lot. Another thing that had helped me is staying positive. If you think positive, positive things would happen to you.

  2. Spreading awareness and raising funding for the research into a final cure for Cystic Fibrosis should be the top priority of government officials, advocates and patients alike. It’s great to see a university willing to put its time and resources into helping the cause such as the University of Iowa. As a “niche” we can collectively share insights and tips to help patients live the highest quality and longest possible life with a progressive and debilitating disease. I hope to see more universities following in your footsteps!

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