What is an alveolar epithelial cells? Are there subtypes of AEC2s in the human lung? How are they replenished? And how does everything change in IPF. I started with flow cytometry characterization, based on known markers. Next I performed microarray transcriptomic analysis on sorted human AEC2s from normal and IPF lungs. I found new markers and identified new processes that improved our understanding of the human lung.
Having found out a few basic characteristics of AEC2s, I set to develop a three dimensional way of growing lung fibroblasts and epithelial cells together. This was not the first time I was developing such an assay actually. I first did that during my PhD on mouse lung epithelial cells and this knowledge helped tremendously on the way. Our lab at Duke was actually one of the first to design such an assay from lung cells.
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 diseased) were sliced in thin slices and kept in a cell culture dish. We were interested in a particular in AEC2s, as they seem to be affected in IPF, so I developed methods of culturing and studying AEC2s in PCLS.
Roxana Wasnick MD PhD
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