Respiratory diseases are among the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. However, the pathogenesis of both acute and chronic lung diseases remains incompletely understood. As a result, therapeutic options for important clinical problems, including acute respiratory distress syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are limited. Research efforts have been held back in part by the difficulty of modeling lung injury in animals. Donor human lungs that have been rejected for transplantation offer a valuable alternative for understanding these diseases. In 2007, our group developed a simple preparation of an ex vivo–perfused single human lung. In this Review, we discuss the availability of donor human lungs for research, describe the ex vivo–perfused lung preparation, and highlight how this preparation can be used to study the mechanisms of lung injury, to isolate primary cells, and to test novel therapeutics.
James T. Ross, Nicolas Nesseler, Jae-Woo Lee, Lorraine B. Ware, Michael A. Matthay