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Lung fibrosis - Novel biomarker signatures

Work from ILBD researchers provides an integrated single‐cell atlas of human lung fibrosis.

Fibrotic lung tissue - © Helmholtz Zentrum München

In their work, the authors around Christoph Mayr from Herbert Schillers‘ group have established a proof of concept showing that data transfer between single‐cell transcriptomic and body fluid proteomic modalities is possible. They identified specific gene expression and frequency changes on cell type level and used histopathologically staged data to infer early changes in lung fibrosis patients.

Using machine learning, they demonstrated that protein signatures in lung lavage fluids correlating with lung function in a large cohort of lung fibrosis patients correspond with specific cell state and cell frequency changes in disease progression.

The authors also discover that the de‐differentiation of alveolar type‐2 epithelial cells in lung fibrosis is reflected by lung lavage fluid and blood plasma levels of the protein CRTAC1, thus establishing a novel peripheral protein biomarker of the lung alveolar epithelial health status.

The work provides an integrated single‐cell atlas of human lung fibrosis and establishes the correspondence of a set of peripheral protein biomarker signatures with cellular changes in the lung. The clinical utility of these novel biomarker signatures in monitoring disease progression can be addressed in prospective longitudinal follow‐up studies. Conceptually, this study serves as important proof of concept for non‐invasive cell state monitoring for future interceptive medicine.

Original publication:
Christoph Mayr et al., EMBO 2021: Integrative analysis of cell state changes in lungfibrosis with peripheral protein biomarkers