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Concept: Human lung


Background The prevalence of pulmonary embolism among patients hospitalized for syncope is not well documented, and current guidelines pay little attention to a diagnostic workup for pulmonary embolism in these patients. Methods We performed a systematic workup for pulmonary embolism in patients admitted to 11 hospitals in Italy for a first episode of syncope, regardless of whether there were alternative explanations for the syncope. The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was ruled out in patients who had a low pretest clinical probability, which was defined according to the Wells score, in combination with a negative d-dimer assay. In all other patients, computed tomographic pulmonary angiography or ventilation-perfusion lung scanning was performed. Results A total of 560 patients (mean age, 76 years) were included in the study. A diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was ruled out in 330 of the 560 patients (58.9%) on the basis of the combination of a low pretest clinical probability of pulmonary embolism and negative d-dimer assay. Among the remaining 230 patients, pulmonary embolism was identified in 97 (42.2%). In the entire cohort, the prevalence of pulmonary embolism was 17.3% (95% confidence interval, 14.2 to 20.5). Evidence of an embolus in a main pulmonary or lobar artery or evidence of perfusion defects larger than 25% of the total area of both lungs was found in 61 patients. Pulmonary embolism was identified in 45 of the 355 patients (12.7%) who had an alternative explanation for syncope and in 52 of the 205 patients (25.4%) who did not. Conclusions Pulmonary embolism was identified in nearly one of every six patients hospitalized for a first episode of syncope. (Funded by the University of Padua; PESIT number, NCT01797289 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Lung, Hospital, Heart, Pulmonary embolism, Pulmonary artery, Human lung, Embolism


Changes in microbial community composition in the lung of patients suffering from moderate to severe COPD have been well documented. However, knowledge about specific microbiome structures in the human lung associated with CT defined abnormalities is limited.

Concepts: Medicine, Asthma, Lung, Pneumonia, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Emphysema, Pulmonary hypertension, Human lung


Didecyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC) is a representative dialkyl-quaternary ammonium compound that is used as a disinfectant against several pathogens and is also used in commercial, industrial, and residential settings. We previously investigated toxicity on air way system following single instillation of DDAC to the lungs in mice, and found that DDAC causes pulmonary injury, which is associated with altered antioxidant antimicrobial responses; the inflammatory phase is accompanied or followed by fibrotic response. The present study was conducted to monitor transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling in pulmonary fibrosis induced by DDAC. Mice were intratracheally instilled with DDAC and sacrificed 1, 3, or 7 days after treatment to measure TGF-β signaling. In order to further evaluate TGF-β signaling, we treated isolated mouse lung fibroblasts with DDAC. Fibrotic foci were observed in the lungs on day 3, and were widely extended on day 7, with evidence of increased α-smooth muscle actin-positive mesenchymal cells and upregulation of Type I procollagen mRNA. Developing fibrotic foci were likely associated with increased expression of Tgf-β1 mRNA, in addition to decreased expression of Bone morphogenetic protein-7 mRNA. In fibrotic lung samples, the expression of phosphorylated SMAD2/3 was considerably higher than that of phosphorylated SMAD1/5. In isolated lung fibroblasts, the mRNA levels of Tgf-β1 were specifically increased by DDAC treatment, which prolonged phosphorylation of SMAD2/3. These effects were abolished by treatment with SD208 - a TGF-βRI kinase inhibitor. The results suggest that DDAC induces pulmonary fibrosis in association with TGF-β signaling.

Concepts: Lung, Pneumonia, Fibrosis, Heart, Pulmonary contusion, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Pneumothorax, Human lung


Tissue-specific differentiation programs become dysregulated during cancer evolution. The transcription factor Nkx2-1 is a master regulator of pulmonary differentiation that is downregulated in poorly differentiated lung adenocarcinoma. Here we use conditional murine genetics to determine how the identity of lung epithelial cells changes upon loss of their master cell-fate regulator. Nkx2-1 deletion in normal and neoplastic lungs causes not only loss of pulmonary identity but also conversion to a gastric lineage. Nkx2-1 is likely to maintain pulmonary identity by recruiting transcription factors Foxa1 and Foxa2 to lung-specific loci, thus preventing them from binding gastrointestinal targets. Nkx2-1-negative murine lung tumors mimic mucinous human lung adenocarcinomas, which express gastric markers. Loss of the gastrointestinal transcription factor Hnf4α leads to derepression of the embryonal proto-oncogene Hmga2 in Nkx2-1-negative tumors. These observations suggest that loss of both active and latent differentiation programs is required for tumors to reach a primitive, poorly differentiated state.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Gene expression, Lung, Lung cancer, Epithelium, Carcinoma, Human lung


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive and fatal parenchymal lung disease with limited therapeutic options, with fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transdifferentiation and hyperproliferation playing a major role. Investigating ex vivo-cultured (myo)fibroblasts from human IPF lungs as well as fibroblasts isolated from bleomycin-challenged mice, Forkhead box O3 (FoxO3) transcription factor was found to be less expressed, hyperphosphorylated, and nuclear-excluded relative to non-diseased controls. Downregulation and/or hyperphosphorylation of FoxO3 was reproduced by exposure of normal human lung fibroblasts to various pro-fibrotic growth factors and cytokines (FCS, PDGF, IGF1, TGF-β1). Moreover, selective knockdown of FoxO3 in the normal human lung fibroblasts reproduced the transdifferentiation and hyperproliferation phenotype. Importantly, mice with global- (Foxo3-/-) or fibroblast-specific (Foxo3f.b-/-) FoxO3 knockout displayed enhanced susceptibility to bleomycin challenge, with augmented fibrosis, loss of lung function, and increased mortality. Activation of FoxO3 with UCN-01, a staurosporine derivative currently investigated in clinical cancer trials, reverted the IPF myofibroblast phenotype in vitro and blocked the bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis in vivo These studies implicate FoxO3 as a critical integrator of pro-fibrotic signaling in lung fibrosis and pharmacological reconstitution of FoxO3 as a novel treatment strategy.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Pulmonology, Lung, Fibrosis, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Pulmonary fibrosis, Interstitial lung disease, Human lung


Recapitulation of lung development from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) in three dimensions (3D) would allow deeper insight into human development, as well as the development of innovative strategies for disease modelling, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. We report here the generation from hPSCs of lung bud organoids (LBOs) that contain mesoderm and pulmonary endoderm and develop into branching airway and early alveolar structures after xenotransplantation and in Matrigel 3D culture. Expression analysis and structural features indicated that the branching structures reached the second trimester of human gestation. Infection in vitro with respiratory syncytial virus, which causes small airway obstruction and bronchiolitis in infants, led to swelling, detachment and shedding of infected cells into the organoid lumens, similar to what has been observed in human lungs. Introduction of mutation in HPS1, which causes an early-onset form of intractable pulmonary fibrosis, led to accumulation of extracellular matrix and mesenchymal cells, suggesting the potential use of this model to recapitulate fibrotic lung disease in vitro. LBOs therefore recapitulate lung development and may provide a useful tool to model lung disease.

Concepts: Human, Pulmonology, Lung, Embryo, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Stem cells, Human lung


Primary graft dysfunction (PGD) is acute lung injury within 72 hours of lung transplantation. We hypothesized that cell-free hemoglobin (CFH) contributes to PGD by increasing lung microvascular permeability and tested this in patients, ex vivo human lungs, and cultured human lung microvascular endothelial cells. In a nested case control study of 40 patients with severe PGD at 72 hours and 80 matched controls without PGD, elevated preoperative CFH was independently associated with increased PGD risk (odds ratio [OR] 2.75, 95%CI, 1.23-6.16, P = 0.014). The effect of CFH on PGD was magnified by reperfusion fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) ≥ 0.40 (OR 3.41, P = 0.031). Isolated perfused human lungs exposed to intravascular CFH (100 mg/dl) developed increased vascular permeability as measured by lung weight (CFH 14.4% vs. control 0.65%, P = 0.047) and extravasation of Evans blue-labeled albumin dye (EBD) into the airspace (P = 0.027). CFH (1 mg/dl) also increased paracellular permeability of human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cell monolayers (hPMVECs). Hyperoxia (FiO2 = 0.95) increased human lung and hPMVEC permeability compared with normoxia (FiO2 = 0.21). Treatment with acetaminophen (15 μg/ml), a specific hemoprotein reductant, prevented CFH-dependent permeability in human lungs (P = 0.046) and hPMVECs (P = 0.037). In summary, CFH may mediate PGD through oxidative effects on microvascular permeability, which are augmented by hyperoxia and abrogated by acetaminophen.

Concepts: Inflammation, Pulmonology, Lung, Heart, Blood vessel, Epithelium, Endothelium, Human lung


This review describes the current understanding of the lungs' response to deforming stress under conditions of both normal physiology and acute lung injury. Several limiting assumptions are needed to infer lung parenchymal stress and strain from airway pressure, volume, and flow data from mechanically ventilated patients with injured lungs. These assumptions include the effects of the chest wall on lung-surface pressure, its topographical distribution, and the effects of non-uniform tissue properties on local parenchymal stresses. In addition, there is a spectrum of biophysical lung injury mechanisms that involves normal as well as tangential alveolar wall stresses. To these are added important secondary effects on pulmonary vascular resistance and right heart function. Understanding both the assumptions of lung mechanics and the scope of injury mechanisms operating during ARDS is necessary to interpret the results of clinical trials that inform prevailing ventilator-management guidelines. The implications issuing from these 3 topics inform a safer approach to setting and adjusting the ventilator to minimize the risk of ventilator-induced lung injury. This is enumerated in a 5-step approach that can be used to guide ventilator management of unstable patients with severe lung injury.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Lung, Pneumonia, Heart, Parenchyma, Tetrapod, Human lung, Acute lung injury


Lung ageing, a significant risk factor for chronic human lung diseases such as COPD and emphysema, is characterised by airspace enlargement and decreasing lung function. Likewise, in prematurely ageing telomerase null (terc-/-) mice, p53 stabilisation within diminishing numbers of alveolar epithelial type 2 cells (AEC2) accompanies reduced lung function. Resveratrol (RSL) is a plant phytoalexin that has previously showed efficacy in enhancing invertebrate longevity and supporting mammalian muscle metabolism when delivered orally. Here, we tested whether inhaled RSL could protect young, terc-/- mice from accelerated ageing of the lung.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Enzyme, Pulmonology, Asthma, Lung, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Emphysema, Human lung


The human lung tissue microbiota remains largely uncharacterized, although a number of studies based on airway samples suggest the existence of a viable human lung microbiota. Here we characterized the taxonomic and derived functional profiles of lung microbiota in 165 non-malignant lung tissue samples from cancer patients.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Disease, Lung, Lung cancer, Human lung