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Surprising New Role for Lungs: Making Blood

Surprising New Role for Lungs: Making Blood

UC San Francisco scientists have revealed that the lungs play a previously unrecognized role in blood production. Professor Mark R. Looney said “this finding definitely suggests a more sophisticated view of the lungs – that they’re not just for respiration but also a key partner in formation of crucial aspects of the blood,”

The researchers found that the lungs produce more than 10 million platelets per hour and suggesting that more than half of a mouse’s total platelet– blood components required for the clotting that stanches bleeding – production occurs in the lung, not the bone marrow.

In another surprise finding, the scientists also identified that blood stem cells in the lung can restore bone marrow. The lung transplant studies/experiments suggest that the lungs play host to a wide variety of blood progenitor cells and stem cells capable of restocking damaged bone marrow and restoring production of many components of the blood.

The findings could have major implications for understanding human diseases in which patients suffer from low platelet counts, or thrombocytopenia, which afflicts millions of people and increases the risk of dangerous uncontrolled bleeding.

As Guy A. Zimmerman (a pulmonologist, MD) said, these observations alter the existing paradigms regarding blood cell formation, lung biology and disease, and transplantation,” And Looney also said, “… it raises a lot of questions with clinical relevance for the millions of people who suffer from thrombocytopenia,”   


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