Every day, humans breathe in 11,000 litres of air. But this essential act also means we inhale microorganisms, particles, and pollutants. A new study from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) has revealed how the unique immune cells that are developed in the embryo protect our lungs from environmental challenges throughout the course of our lifetime. -As soon as we take our first breath, our lungs are populated by a unique subset of immune cells called alveolar macrophages (AM), which are constantly patrolling our airways throughout our whole lives,- said professor and senior author Maziar Divangahi, a pulmonary immunologist and senior scientist in the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the RI-MUHC. How AMs could maintain this longevity was largely unknown until the publication of this study. For the first time, the team was able to discern vital cellular and molecular mechanisms in embryonic development that ensure lung function throughout the life of an organism. -The reduction of alveolar macrophages in aging individuals, who had increased susceptibility to pulmonary infection or inflammation, thus this study has tremendous clinical implications for immunity to infectious diseases and the lung health of an aging population,- said Divangahi.
maziar.divangahi [at] mcgill.ca