Newly Discovered Lung Function Has A Key Role In Blood Production

First Posted: Mar 24, 2017 05:12 AM EDT

Scientists have just discovered a new lung function besides enabling respiration. They found that lungs have a significant role in blood production.

The findings of the discovery were described in Nature. The study was led by researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), according to New Atlas.

The study involved mice, in which the scientists discovered that lungs generate over 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour. This is over half of a mouse's total amount. This find conflicts with the speculations that bone marrow creates all the human blood components. They also identified the unknown pool of blood cells that occurs inside the lung tissue, which are cells that were mistakenly thought to reside in bone marrow.

Mark R. Looney, one of the researchers, said that the study indicates a more sophisticated view of the lungs. He further said that lungs are not just for respiration but also have a role in the formation of crucial aspects of the blood. "What we've observed here in mice strongly suggest the lung may play a key role in blood formation in humans as well."

The scientists used the two-photon intravital imaging in their examination. The team inserted a substance known as green fluorescent protein (GFP) into the mouse genome, which is a protein naturally created by bioluminescent animals like jellyfish. They found that mouse platelets ejected green fluorescence as they circulated around the body in real time. This made the team monitor their paths and surprisingly found the large population of platelet-producing megakaryocytes inside the lung tissue.

Then, they discovered that these large population of megakaryocytes generates over 10 million platelets per hour in the lungs of mice. This signifies that at least half of the body's total platelet production is taking place in the lungs. The scientists also want to examine if this finding could have an impact on how humans treat disorders like bleeding, lung inflammation and transplantation in the time to come, according to Science Alert. 

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