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Volckaert T.,National Jewish Health | Volckaert T.,The Inflammation Research Center | Volckaert T.,Ghent University | De Langhe S.,National Jewish Health | De Langhe S.,University of Colorado at Denver
Fibrogenesis and Tissue Repair | Year: 2014

Throughout life adult animals crucially depend on stem cell populations to maintain and repair their tissues to ensure life-long organ function. Stem cells are characterized by their capacity to extensively self-renew and give rise to one or more differentiated cell types. These powerful stem cell properties are key to meet the changing demand for tissue replacement during normal lung homeostasis and regeneration after lung injury. Great strides have been made over the last few years to identify and characterize lung epithelial stem cells as well as their lineage relationships. Unfortunately, knowledge on what regulates the behavior and fate specification of lung epithelial stem cells is still limited, but involves communication with their microenvironment or niche, a local tissue environment that hosts and influences the behaviors or characteristics of stem cells and that comprises other cell types and extracellular matrix. As such, an intimate and dynamic epithelial-mesenchymal cross-talk, which is also essential during lung development, is required for normal homeostasis and to mount an appropriate regenerative response after lung injury. Fibroblast growth factor 10 (Fgf10) signaling in particular seems to be a well-conserved signaling pathway governing epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during lung development as well as between different adult lung epithelial stem cells and their niches. On the other hand, disruption of these reciprocal interactions leads to a dysfunctional epithelial stem cell-niche unit, which may culminate in chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). © 2014 Volckaert and De Langhe.

Volckaert T.,National Jewish Health | Volckaert T.,The Inflammation Research Center | Volckaert T.,Ghent University | De Langhe S.P.,National Jewish Health | De Langhe S.P.,University of Colorado at Denver
Developmental Dynamics | Year: 2015

The adaptation to terrestrial life required the development of an organ capable of efficient air-blood gas exchange. To meet the metabolic load of cellular respiration, the mammalian respiratory system has evolved from a relatively simple structure, similar to the two-tube amphibian lung, to a highly complex tree-like system of branched epithelial airways connected to a vast network of gas exchanging units called alveoli. The development of such an elaborate organ in a relatively short time window is therefore an extraordinary feat and involves an intimate crosstalk between mesodermal and endodermal cell lineages. Results: This review describes the molecular processes governing lung development with an emphasis on the current knowledge on the role of Wnt and FGF signaling in lung epithelial differentiation. Conclusions: The Wnt and FGF signaling pathways are crucial for the dynamic and reciprocal communication between epithelium and mesenchyme during lung development. In addition, some of this developmental crosstalk is reemployed in the adult lung after injury to drive regeneration, and may, when aberrantly or chronically activated, result in chronic lung diseases. Novel insights into how the Wnt and FGF pathways interact and are integrated into a complex gene regulatory network will not only provide us with essential information about how the lung regenerates itself, but also enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases, as well as improve the controlled differentiation of lung epithelium from pluripotent stem cells. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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