Background aims: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease characterized by disrupted lung growth, is the most common complication in extreme premature infants. BPD leads to persistent pulmonary disease later in life. Alveolar epithelial type 2 cells (AEC2s), a subset of which represent distal lung progenitor cells (LPCs), promote normal lung growth and repair. AEC2 depletion may contribute to persistent lung injury in BPD. We hypothesized that induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived AECs prevent lung damage in experimental oxygen-induced BPD.
Methods: Mouse AECs (mAECs), miPSCs/mouse embryonic stem sells, human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells (hUCMSCs), human (h)iPSCs, hiPSC-derived LPCs and hiPSC-derived AECs were delivered intratracheally to hyperoxia-exposed newborn mice. Cells were pre-labeled with a red fluorescent dye for in vivo tracking.
Results: Airway delivery of primary mAECs and undifferentiated murine pluripotent cells prevented hyperoxia-induced impairment in lung function and alveolar growth in neonatal mice. Similar to hUCMSC therapy, undifferentiated hiPSCs also preserved lung function and alveolar growth in hyperoxia-exposed neonatal NOD/SCID mice. Long-term assessment of hiPSC administration revealed local teratoma formation and cellular infiltration in various organs. To develop a clinically relevant cell therapy, we used a highly efficient method to differentiate hiPSCs into a homogenous population of AEC2s. Airway delivery of hiPSC-derived AEC2s and hiPSC-derived LPCs, improved lung function and structure and resulted in long-term engraftment without evidence of tumor formation.
Conclusions: hiPSC-derived AEC2 therapy appears effective and safe in this model and warrants further exploration as a therapeutic option for BPD and other lung diseases characterized by AEC injury.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery

Shafa, M. (Mehdi), Ionescu, L.I. (Lavinia Iuliana), Vadivel, A. (Arul), Collins, J., Xu, L. (Liqun), Zhong, S. (Shumei), … Thébaud, B. (Bernard). (2017). Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived lung progenitor and alveolar epithelial cells attenuate hyperoxia-induced lung injury. Cytotherapy. doi:10.1016/j.jcyt.2017.09.003