The role of pulmonary vascular epithelial cells is very different! U.S. Study Reveals Gene Expression Changes with Disease Course in Two Subgroups | GeneOnline News

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago analyzed the genes of more than 35,000 blood vessel cells in the lungs of mice and classified them, and found two subtypes of cell populations, immune endothelial cells. The expression of immune endothelial cells (immune endothelial cells, immuneECs) is mostly related to the regulation of inflammation and immune response; the other is development endothelial cells (devECs), and the expression of genes is mostly related to growth, such as cell regeneration and proliferation.

This research result is expected to provide a better treatment strategy for future pneumonia therapy by regulating the gene expression balance of the two cell populations. The paper has been published in the journal “JCI Insight” recently.

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Vascular epithelial cells can be divided into two subtypes based on gene expression

Fluorescence microscope image of lung tissue, showing vascular epithelial cells in green and other lung cells in red (Credit: Jalees Rehamn)

Professor Jaless Rehman, from the University of Illinois’ Department of Pharmacology and Regenerative Medicine, said: “In our experiments, we observed that the vascular cells in the lungs appear to be grouped according to different functions; when there is an infection or other stress in the body, they are divided into two groups. It’s more obvious.” So Professor Rehman led his research team to extract mouse lung tissue, and then sequenced the fluorescent proteins in thousands of vascular epithelial cells for RNA sequencing to identify different types of epithelial cells. The team successfully identified two major epithelial cell types, immuneECs and devECs. Analysis of the lungs of healthy and influenza-infected mice also revealed that the expression of genes in cells of these two subtypes further differentiated as the cells were infected and injured.

Vascular epithelial cells can be divided into immuneEC and devEC according to their function and gene expression. (Image credit: JCI Insight)

Intracellular gene expression of the two groups differs with the severity of the disease

“We found that some pulmonary vascular endothelial cells are highly inflammatory, while others retain the ability to regenerate, ready to start proliferating to repair blood vessels damaged during infection,” said Professor Rehman.

As the disease course of the cells deteriorates or the damage expands, the expression of immune response genes in immuneECs cells increases, such as major histocompatibility complex genes, which can present antigens to T cells for immunotoxicity; As the body recovers, devECs express more repair genes, such as Sox17, which aids in blood vessel growth and regeneration.

After understanding the balance of immunity and repair in this subgroup, the research team believes that this subgroup can be used for the development of therapies for pulmonary vascular-related diseases, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome. Once the immune response is excessive, the immune activity of immuneEC can be inhibited and the regeneration function of devEC can be enhanced. By improving the balance of the two groups, the disease can be relieved.

In addition, Professor Rehman also pointed out that unlike the heart and other internal organs, the lungs can be protected from direct damage by external pathogens, and the health of the lungs can only be protected through a combination of immunity and regeneration.

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