What are precision cut lung slices (PCLS)?

The lung is a very complex mixture of cells, which exist in a tight community. They rely on each other for the production of common goods, which they need for their daily existence. We set up an assay where pieces of donated lung (healthy or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis - IPF) were sliced in thin slices and kept in a cell culture dish for up to 30 days. These PCLS were then used to test therapeutic compounds and study how cell behavior is altered in IPF.

How are PCLS made?

PCLS represent very thin slices (200-500 microns) of lung tissue that can be maintained in culture. They offer the advantage of having a quasi normal cellular environment that can be manipulated for the purpose of pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. This assay is very instrumental also in studying cell behavior during injury and repair, in healthy and diseased tissues. To confer the solid consistency necessary for sectioning, the lung has to be filled with low melt agarose, cooled on ice, and then sectioned. While not at all difficult to perform, organ procurement is a major concern. The technique needs to be adjusted for different diseases, according to the changes in tissue structure. Other challenges that we had to overcome were to establish culturing conditions and understand the cellular dynamics during the time of culture. This work led to several scientific collaborations and a patent.

Roxana Wasnick MD PhD 

Medical Scientist

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