Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive and fatal lung disease with limited response to currently available therapies. Alveolar type II (ATII) cells act as progenitor cells in the adult lung, contributing to alveolar repair during pulmonary injury. However, in IPF, ATII cells die and are replaced by fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. In previous preclinical studies, we demonstrated that ATII-cell intratracheal transplantation was able to reduce pulmonary fibrosis. The main objective of this study was to investigate the safety and tolerability of ATII-cell intratracheal transplantation in patients with IPF.
We enrolled 16 patients with moderate and progressive IPF who underwent ATII-cell intratracheal transplantation through fiberoptic bronchoscopy. We evaluated the safety and tolerability of ATII-cell transplantation by assessing the emergent adverse side effects that appeared within 12 months. Moreover, pulmonary function, respiratory symptoms, and disease extent during 12 months of follow-up were evaluated.
No significant adverse events were associated with the ATII-cell intratracheal transplantation. After 12 months of follow-up, there was no deterioration in pulmonary function, respiratory symptoms, or disease extent.
Our results support the hypothesis that ATII-cell intratracheal transplantation is safe and well tolerated in patients with IPF. This study opens the door to designing a clinical trial to elucidate the potential beneficial effects of ATII-cell therapy in IPF.