Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal progressive fibrotic lung disease characterized by the presence of invasive myofibroblasts in the lung. Currently, there are only two FDA-approved drugs (pirfenidone and nintedanib) for the treatment of IPF. There are no defined criteria to guide specific drug therapy. New methodologies are needed not only to predict personalized drug therapy, but also to screen novel molecules that are on the horizon for treatment of IPF. We have developed a model system that exploits the invasive phenotype of IPF lung tissue. This ex vivo 3D model uses lung tissue from patients to develop pulmospheres. Pulmospheres are 3D spheroids composed of cells derived exclusively from primary lung biopsies and inclusive of lung cell types reflective of those in situ, in the patient. We tested the pulmospheres of 20 subjects with IPF and 9 control subjects to evaluate the responsiveness of individual patients to antifibrotic drugs. Clinical parameters and outcomes were also followed in the same patients. Our results suggest that pulmospheres simulate the microenvironment in the lung and serve as a personalized and predictive model for assessing responsiveness to antifibrotic drugs in patients with IPF.


Ranu Surolia, Fu Jun Li, Zheng Wang, Huashi Li, Gang Liu, Yong Zhou, Tracy Luckhardt, Sejong Bae, Rui-ming Liu, Sunad Rangarajan, Joao de Andrade, Victor J. Thannickal, Veena B. Antony


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