It is always important to know what is going on in the world of COPD/Asthma, hence a weekly (at the minimum) posting of ‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ – because those of us battling the issue should always be up to date on what is going on, and that includes both the positives and the negatives of the COPD/Asthma life.

Today we are sharing a study summary we found that discusses the causes of why our lungs lose their ability to heal.

Special Note – I, like so many others with COPD/Asthma, most likely face times of great frustration because we really want our lungs to heal, or at least get better so our breathing battles are not so severe and scary.  This write may be above the mindset of many, including myself, but what is saying is – they may have come across one of the reasons as to why this inability to heal is happening.  And that folks, is good news!!

Read with a positive note in your mind that maybe the light got a bit brighter in the tunnels of our days ahead.

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COPD:  What causes the lungs to lose their ability to heal?

The Source:  Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen of the German Research Center for Environmental Health

The Summary:  In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the patients’ lungs lose their ability to repair damages on their own and scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, partner in the German Center for Lung Research (DZL) now have a new idea as to why this might be so.  In the Journal of Experimental Medicine, they blame the molecule Wnt5a for the problem.

Date of Summary:  December 16, 2016

The first indication of COPD is usually a chronic cough.  As the disease progresses, the airways narrow and often pulmonary emphysema develops.  This indicates irreversible expansion and damage to the alveoli, or air sacks.

“The body is no longer able to repair the destroyed structures,” explains Dr. Melanie Konigshoff, head of the Research Unit Lung Repair and Regeneration (LRR) at the Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC) of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen.  She and her team have made it their job to understand how this happens.

“In our current work, we have been able to show that COPD results in a change in the messengers that lung cells use to communicate with one another,” Konigshoff continues.  “Specifically, the scientists discovered increased production of the Wnt5a molecule which disrupts the classic (or canonical, as the experts call it) Wnt/beta-catenin* signaling pathway that is responsible for such repairs.”

“Our working hypothesis was that the relationship between different Wnt messengers is no longer balanced in COPD,” reports Dr. Hoeke Baarsma, LRR scientist and the study’s first author.

The team correspondingly searched for possible interference signals.

“In both the pre-clinical model and the tissue samples from patients, we found that COPD tissue particularly the non-canonical Wnt5a molecule is increased and occurs in a modified form,” continued Dr. Baarsma.  “According to the authors, stimuli that typically cause a reaction in COPD, such as cigarette smoke, additionally lead to increased production of Wnt5a and consequently to impaired lung regeneration.”

In the next steps, the researchers were able to show where the misdirected signal originates: “It is produced by certain cells in the connective tissue, the so-called fibroblasts,” added Dr. Baarsma. “When pulmonary epithelial cells were treated with the Wnt5a derived from the fibroblasts, the cells lost their healing ability.  The scientists were also able to use antibodies directed against Wnt5a in two different experimental models to slow down the lung destruction and better maintain the lung function.”

“Our results show that the classic Wnt/beta-catenin signal cascade is disrupted by the Wnt5a ligand,” noted study leader Dr. Konigshoff in explaining the importance of the results. “This is a completely new mechanism in association with COPD and could lead to new therapeutic approaches, which are urgently needed for treatment.”

Story Source: Materials provided by Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen – the German Research Center for Environmental Health.  Please note – the content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference: Baarsma, HA et al. Non-canonical WNT-5A signaling impairs 1 endogenous lung repair in COPD.  (Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2016.

* Reference: The Wnt signaling pathway is one of many pathways for forwarding signals in order to allow cells to respond to external changes.  The signaling pathway is named after its main player “Wnt”, a signaling protein that takes on a key function in the development of various animal cells as a local mediator.  Numerous proteins are involved in the canonical (classic) forwarding of the signals, including beta-catenin as the central cellular messenger.  A pathway in which Wnt acts through other messengers, as described here, is called a non-canonical signaling pathway; this can have a negative impact on the canonical signaling.

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‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ will continue to feature writings from medical folks and caretakers who share insights into the world of what may be going on in the world of COPD/Asthma.  ‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ can be found at either or within the Facebook page, COPD Travels.

Remember – ‘a person without good breathing, is a person without a good life’, so let’s do what we can, to learn what we can, to improve what we can.

I bid to all – smiles, prayers, blessings and steady breathing – Mr. William.

(Copyright@2017, CrossDove Writer through – no part of this write may be used or copied without written permission.)

NOTES: Sometimes we share what may seem like medical information, but we are only giving descriptions and highlights of various aspects of having COPD and/or asthma and no way do we ever want our information to be considered medical treatment type of information, always consult your physician for more, clearer and more medical founded information.