Stem/progenitor cell populations in the human lung play a role in tissue regeneration in the event of injury.
It is vital that the adult respiratory system us able to repair itself in response to damage and disease. However, lung tissue regeneration mechanisms and factors are not fully understood. Respiratory disease is a leading cause of death, particularly for populations living in industrial environments. Research investigating lung tissue regeneration is therefore particularly important.
Most commonly, respiratory research uses mice as a model organism. During development, stem cells and progenitor cells drive growth of tissues in the embryo. In early development the middle layer of embryonic cells, the mesoderm, is partially made of Cardiopulmonary mesoderm Pulmonary Progenitors (CPP cells). As mammals grow, large numbers of CPP cells remain in the tissues derived from the mesoderm, enabling the tissues to react to chemical and physical damage.
This illustration was based on research by Brigid Hogan on the repair and regeneration of lung tissue by stem cells.