A University of Michigan study involving a type of lung stem cells suggests they may be able to help with lung disease and donated organ rejection.
That's significant because a large number of lung transplant patients experience chronic rejection of donated lungs, with rejection rates of about 60 percent during the first five years after transplantation.
The researchers studied mesenchymal stem cells, a type of progenitor cell that most commonly originates in the bone marrow.
They found that the MSCs in lung transplant patients are not derived from bone marrow, but rather that they reside - sometimes for many years - in the lungs, and that the cells have the capacity to differentiate into multiple connective tissue cell types.
One of the most telling findings was that, in cases where the transplant donor and recipient were not of the same sex, nearly all the MSCs, about 97 percent, originated in the donor, indicating that they were present in the tissue since the time of transplantation.
Tracy Davis, News staff reporter
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