Single-Cell RNA Sequencing-Based Characterization of Resident Lung Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

Stem Cells. 2022 May 27;40(5):479-492. doi: 10.1093/stmcls/sxab023.


Late lung development is a period of alveolar and microvascular formation, which is pivotal in ensuring sufficient and effective gas exchange. Defects in late lung development manifest in premature infants as a chronic lung disease named bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Numerous studies demonstrated the therapeutic properties of exogenous bone marrow and umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in experimental BPD. However, very little is known regarding the regenerative capacity of resident lung MSCs (L-MSCs) during normal development and in BPD. In this study we aimed to characterize the L-MSC population in homeostasis and upon injury. We used single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to profile in situ Ly6a+ L-MSCs in the lungs of normal and O2-exposed neonatal mice (a well-established model to mimic BPD) at 3 developmental timepoints (postnatal days 3, 7, and 14). Hyperoxia exposure increased the number and altered the expression profile of L-MSCs, particularly by increasing the expression of multiple pro-inflammatory, pro-fibrotic, and anti-angiogenic genes. In order to identify potential changes induced in the L-MSCs transcriptome by storage and culture, we profiled 15 000 Ly6a+ L-MSCs after in vitro culture. We observed great differences in expression profiles of in situ and cultured L-MSCs, particularly those derived from healthy lungs. Additionally, we have identified the location of Ly6a+/Col14a1+ L-MSCs in the developing lung and propose Serpinf1 as a novel, culture-stable marker of L-MSCs. Finally, cell communication analysis suggests inflammatory signals from immune and endothelial cells as main drivers of hyperoxia-induced changes in L-MSCs transcriptome.

Keywords: bronchopulmonary dysplasia; lung MSC; lung development; scRNA-seq.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia* / genetics
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia* / metabolism
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia* / therapy
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Hyperoxia* / genetics
  • Hyperoxia* / metabolism
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA

Grant support