Expression of pIgR by club cells in human small airways in COPD - 17/02/23

Doi : 10.1016/j.rmr.2022.11.021 
C. Fays (de) 1, , B. Detry 1, M. Lecocq 1, V. Geudens 2, C. Bouzin 3, S. Gohy 1, 4, B.M. Vanaudenaerde 2, C. Pilette 1, 4
1 Pole of Pneumology, ENT, and Dermatology, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Research, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium 
2 Laboratory of Respiratory Diseases and Thoracic Surgery (BREATHE), Department of Chronic Diseases and Metabolism (CHROMETA), KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium 
3 IREC Imaging Platform, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Research, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium 
4 Department of Pneumology, Cliniques Universitaires St-Luc, Brussels, Belgium 

Corresponding author.



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by small airway inflammation and obstruction as well as infectious exacerbations. A defect in polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) expression has been reported, resulting in secretory IgA-deficient areas that promote persistent inflammation. However, mechanisms linking pIgR defect and altered repair of small airways remain elusive. We hypothesized that pIgR could identify club cells with regenerative potential in the human distal lung.


Paraffin sections (1 section/lung) from 9 control lungs (unused donor lungs) and 7 severe COPD lungs (explants) were stained by multiplex immunofluorescence for pIgR, CC16 and Ki67, followed by quantification in small airways (defined histologically as terminal bronchioles) using Visiopharm®.


Most club (CC16+) cells expressed pIgR in control lungs, while this feature was decreased in COPD (78.4% [57.8–88.8], median [IQR], in controls vs. 54% [40–72.7] in COPD, P=0.049). In addition, based on expression of CC16 among proliferating (Ki67+) cells (84% [81.1–95.6] in controls vs. 91.3% [73–100] in COPD), most proliferating epithelial cells in small airways consisted of club cells. Finally, among proliferating club (Ki67+CC16+) cells, pIgR expression was strongly decreased in COPD (15% [3.0–24.9] in controls vs. 0.4% [0–1.4] in COPD, P=0.0046) (Fig. 1).


These pilot data confirm [1] that club cells of human small airways display a robust expression of pIgR, and suggest that the pool of proliferating club cells expressing this marker is almost lost in patients with severe COPD. Further studies are needed to assess the role of pIgR in club cells.

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© 2022  Publicado por Elsevier Masson SAS.

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Vol 40 - N° 2

P. 118-119 - février 2023 Regresar al número
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