Training immune cells to remove ‘trash’ helps resolve lung inflammation

Inflammation in the lungs can sometimes become excessive and unchecked, causing acute lung injury and even death. However, researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago have discovered cells in the lungs that can help counterbalance inflammation. These cells, known as alveolar macrophages, are able to reduce inflammation by removing cellular debris, ingesting harmful bacteria, and releasing anti-inflammatory proteins. What’s even more remarkable is that these cells can be trained by a previous infection to be even more effective at their job during a subsequent infection. The researchers demonstrated that injecting these trained cells into mice helped keep them alive after an infection with pneumonia. This discovery could potentially lead to a cell therapy that prevents excessive inflammation. The research also found that the molecules involved in the removal of cell debris were higher in the trained alveolar macrophages, making them more effective at reducing acute lung injury. Further research could explore whether other organs’ macrophages could be trained in a similar way.

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