By Cristina D’Imperio

Image: From Nature Medicine. Building and using the HLCA

The Human Lung Cell Atlas (HLCA), announced recently in an article for Nature Medicine, is the largest and most comprehensive cell map of the human lung, as well as the first integrated single-cell map of the human lung.

The HLCA includes information from 36 studies and 49 lung datasets and serves as a reference for future cellular studies of the lung. The datasets are from every major single-cell RNA-sequencing lung study currently published and include more than 2.4 million cells from 486 people.

“The lung is a very complex organ and only now, by using new technologies, multiple cell types have been identified,” said one of the study’s authors, Mauricio Rojas, MD, McGowan affiliated faculty, in an interview with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“This manuscript is the result of a worldwide collaborative effort in which investigators in the United States, Europe, and Australia have shared their data, resulting in a large database, that has allowed us to identify more than 50 different cell types of the lung,” continued Dr. Rojas. “These will help us to understand progress like aging, and diseases like COPD and lung fibrosis.”

The HLCA will allow researchers to better understand lung biology in health and disease. It has not only revealed cellular differences between healthy lungs but has also found common cell states between lung fibrosis, cancer, and Covid-19. New approaches to understanding lung disease can, in turn, help identify new therapeutic targets.

The Human Lung Cell Atlas is freely and publicly available to researchers globally.

Read the full press release from Ohio State University here.

Find the article, “A cellular reference atlas of the human lung,” in Nature Medicine here.