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Stem Cells. 2011 Aug;29(8):1283-93. doi: 10.1002/stem.680.

Novel stem/progenitor cell population from murine tracheal submucosal gland ducts with multipotent regenerative potential.

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Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA.


The airway epithelium is in direct contact with the environment and therefore constantly at risk for injury. Basal cells (BCs) have been found to repair the surface epithelium (SE), but the contribution of other stem cell populations to airway epithelial repair has not been identified. We demonstrated that airway submucosal gland (SMG) duct cells, in addition to BCs, survived severe hypoxic-ischemic injury. We developed a method to isolate duct cells from the airway. In vitro and in vivo models were used to compare the self-renewal and differentiation potential of duct cells and BCs. We found that only duct cells were capable of regenerating SMG tubules and ducts, as well as the SE overlying the SMGs. SMG duct cells are therefore a multipotent stem cell for airway epithelial repair This is of importance to the field of lung regeneration as determining the repairing cell populations could lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and cell-based therapies for patients with airway diseases.

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