Humans inhale 11,000 liters of air every day. But this essential act also means breathing in microbes, particles, and contaminants. New research from the lab at McGill University Health Center (RI-MUHC) reveals how unique immune cells developed in the embryo protect our lungs from environmental challenges throughout our lives. “As soon as we take our first breath, our lungs are populated with a unique subset of immune cells called alveolar macrophages (AMs). We constantly patrol the airways through our immunologist and senior scientist Translational research in respiratory disease programs at RI-MUHC. Little was known until the publication of this study how AM could sustain this lifespan. For the first time, the team was able to identify key cellular and molecular mechanisms in embryonic development that ensure lung function throughout the organism’s lifetime. “Decrease in alveolar macrophages in older people with increased susceptibility to pulmonary infection or pulmonary inflammation, therefore, this study has tremendous clinical implications for immunity to infectious diseases and lung health in the elderly population.” said Divangahi.
maziar.divangahi [at] mcgill.ca (English)