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sector_ico_Health_trans Human Health

Endo-phenotyping of Human Alveolar Macrophages from Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL)

  • Project Leaders: Xuekui Zhang, Don Sin
  • Institutions: University of Victoria (UVic)
  • Budget: $250000
  • Program/Competition: Sector Innovation Program
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2020
  • Status: Closed

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disease of the lung characterized by irreversible airflow limitation, persistent airway inflammation, and recurrent symptom flair-ups or “acute exacerbations” of COPD (AECOPD). Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are the dominant immune cells of the lungs and perform various critical functions, including fighting infection and tissue repair.  AMs exhibit enormous phenotypic diversity and it is still unclear how these subpopulations of AMs vary between healthy and COPD populations. In Canada, over two million people suffer from COPD, costing over $1.5 billion per year in direct expenditures. Due to the significant personal, social and economic burden, a better understanding of COPD pathobiology, including alveolar macrophages, is critical in directing appropriate healthcare.

In this study, the group first developed multiple automated computational methodologies to aid the analysis of the bronchoalveolar lavages (BAL) on a single-cell level. They found COPD patients’ airways have a higher presence of immune cells as compared to healthy airways, suggesting inflammation plays a key role in the development of COPD. Through a newly funded project with the National Research Council Canada, this group will further explore the relationships between cell types in the BAL, their gene expression, and clinical outcomes in patients, by developing better computational approaches and expanding sample size.