Key Applications for Airway Cells

Respiratory System

White Papers - Airway Research

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  • Selected Applications

    Lonza offers a broad donor variety of airway cells from normal, asthmatic, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis or iPF lung tissue. Read how researchers have been using our cells and media to study these potentially fatal diseases.


    Select the application of interest from the navigation above or register to download our white papers below.



    White Papers

    Co-culturing Bronchial Epithelial and Smooth Muscle Cells from Normal and Asthmatic Donors in RAFT™  3D System


    With 2D methods, it is challenging to layer multiple cell types to achieve the complexity of an airway model. In order to better understand cellular interactions, we developed a preliminary co-culture system with Lonza's bronchial epithelial and smooth muscle cells from normal and asthmatic donors using the RAFT™ 3D Cell Culture System.


    More White Papers Available

    • An Air-liquid Interface Culture System for Small Airway Epithelial Cells
    • Asthma- and COPD-related Differential Gene Expression in Primary Human Lung Fibroblasts
    • Gene Expression Differences in Airway Epithelial Cells from Human Donors Diagnosed with COPD
    • And more                               


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    Airway Cell Types and Functions

    Lung Fibroblasts


    Lung Fibroblasts


    Found abundantly in lung interstitium


    • Maintains structural integrity of the lung
    • Involved in repair and remodeling processes following injury


    Learn more about our cells

    1. Lung Fibroblasts


    Respiratory Epithelial Cells


    Respiratory Epithelial cells


    Lines the trachae and bronchial tubes


    • Lines the respiratory tract, moistens and protect the airways
    • Barrier to potential pathogens, preventing infection and tissue injury
    • Pseudostratified consisting of ciliated cells, goblet cells and basal cells


    Learn more about our cells

    1. Goblet Cells – Secretes mucus to maintain epithelial moisture and trappathogens or particulates

    2. Basal Cells – Differentiate into other cell types to restore a healthy epithelial cell layer

    3. Cilia Cells – Move back and forth,carrying mucus up and out of the respiratory tract


    Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells


    Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells

    Layers beneath the bronchial/trachial epithelial cells in the trachea or bronchial tubes


    • Produces slow and sustained contractions in the wall of lungs to regulate air flow
    • Over activity of smooth muscle cell layer causes narrowing of airtubes and has been tied to asthma and COPD


    Learn more about our cells

    1. Smooth Muscle Cells



    Respiratory Endothelial and Alveolar Cells


    Respiratory Endothelial Cells


    Microvascular endothelial cells and alveolar epithelial cells are involved in gas exchange functions within the lung


    Learn more about our cells

    1. Pulmonary Vein – carries the oxygenated blood away from lung to the heart

    2. Pulmonary Artery – carries deoxygenated blood to the lung

    3. Microvascular Endothelial Cells (HMVEC) surround alveoli, involved in gas exchange, also provide passive surface for exchange of water, macromolecules and some cell traffic

    4. Alverolar epithelial cells are located in small airway. Alveoli carry oxygen to the blood and take CO2 away from the blood back to the respiratory system



  • Asthma and COPD Research

    According to World Health Organization, 235 million people worldwide have asthma. The exact cause of asthma is not known but it is understood that a combination of genetic and environmental factors interact to cause asthma.

    COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide according to the World Health Organization. COPD is not necessarily a single disease but an umbrella term that is used to describe chronic lung diseases (example: emphysema and chronic obstructive bronchitis) that cause long-term limitation in lung airflow. COPD is usually common in long-term smokers and is associated with a progressive decline in pulmonary function.

    Asthma and COPD research is currently focused on:

    • Understanding the causes that lead to asthma or COPD in different people
    • Developing improved treatments for asthma or COPD
    • For COPD specifically, understanding the effects of smoking and how it leads to COPD


    Lonza offers lung epithelial, smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts from normal, asthmatic and COPD donors supported with the same growth and air-liquid interface media. Detailed donor history is provided upon request for diseased cells including cause of death, list of medications and other details. Contact our scientific support team for additional details.    

    White Papers

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    • Asthma- and COPD-related Differential Gene Expression in Primary Human Lung Fibroblasts
    • Gene Expression Differences in Primary Tracheobronchial Airway Epithelial Cells from Human Donors Diagnosed with Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)  
    • Co-culturing Bronchial Epithelial and Smooth Muscle Cells from Normal and Asthmatic Donors in RAFT™ 3D Cell Culture System


    Select References with Lonza’s normal and diseased cells:

    • “Directional Secretory Response of Double Stranded RNA-Induced Thymic Stromal Lymphopoetin (TSLP) and CCL11/Eotaxin-1 in Human Asthmatic Airways”. Gustavo Nino,et al. examined the effects of TSLP (Thymic stromal lymphopoetin) at both sides (apical/basal) of the human epithelial barrier using a multi-scale approach that included an in vitro model of polarized, primary differentiated HBEC at air-liquid interface (ALI), human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMC) and clinical experiments in nasal airway secretions obtained during naturally occurring rhinovirus-induced asthma exacerbations.
    • “Down-regulated Peroxisome Proliferator-activated Receptor γ (PPARγ) in Lung Epithelial Cells Promotes a PPARγ Agonist-reversible Proinflammatory Phenotype in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)”. Lakshmi, etal. examined the anti-inflammatory potential of PPARγ in pulmonary epithelial cells of people with and without COPD and on smoke-induced epithelial responses.



    Related Products:

      Anti-pan cytokeratin staining of BSMC stained with anti-β-tubulin in 2D and 3D. Anti-pan cytokeratin staining of Asthmatic co-culture stained 
        Normal Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells in RAFT™ System Asthmatic Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells in RAFT™ System


  • Air-liquid Interface Studies

    The B-ALI™ Bronchial Air-Liquid Interface BulletKit™ and the S-ALI™ Small Airway Air Liquid Interface BulletKit™ provides scientists with a unique tool to investigate new areas of airway epithelial research in a more physiologically relevant way. By using an air-liquid interface model, scientists can explore bronchial and small airway epithelial cell differentiation and apply therapies in novel ways.

    The B-ALI™ and S-ALI™ Bullekits™ are made up of a Growth and Differentiation Medium SingleQuots™ Kit, Growth Basal Medium and Differentiation Basal Medium. Our B-ALI™ and S-ALI™ BulletKits™ promote full differentiation of the airway epithelium expressed by the formation of a polarized epithelium with good barrier function (transepithelial resistance), secretory phenotype (mucin secretion) and ciliogenesis.  When used with our guaranteed bronchial epithelial cells  and our small airway epithelial cells differentiation will occur by day 22 in culture.  


    White Papers

    • An air-liquid interface culture system for small airway epithelial cells
    • B-ALI™ Bronchial Air Liquid Interface Media for more physiological airway models

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    Select References with Lonza’s Cells and Air-liquid Interface Media:   
    • “A Rotating Bioreactor for Scalable Culture and Differentiation of Respiratory Epithelium”Respiratory epithelium is difficult to grow in vitro, as it requires a well-maintained polarizing air‐liquid interface (ALI) to maintain differentiation. Raredon et al. describe a scalable and easy method to conduct air-liquid interface with Lonza’s bronchial epithelial cells guaranteed for ALI differentiation.                
    • Cell concentration and space for growth are required for productive NHBE cell branching in vitro. NHBE branching is also influenced by co-cultures with select cell types such as HUVECs. Read more
    • Wu, et al. reports for the first time that HBE cells when grown in B-ALI™ Medium can differentiate into 3D glandular acinar structures, like salivary and mammary epithelial. The cells were grown on the basement membrane matrix Matrigel under select conditions and have shown to exhibit formation of brochospheres or tracheospheres with ciliated lining                                



    Related Products:


     Airway Cells Application: NHBE cells grown on membrane on day 26 post air lift





    Profile view of differentiated NHBE-Normal Human Bronchial Epithelial cells grown in B-ALI™ Media. Note cilia on apical layer of cells.

  • Cystic Fibrosis Research

    Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system. An inherited condition, Cystic Fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. The diseases causes the body to produce mucus that in turn clogs the lungs and leads to infection.


    Cystic Fibrosis is characterized by mutations in a single gene - the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Regulator (CFTR) gene. In normal cells, the CFTR protein acts as a channel that allows cells to release chloride and other ions. But in people with CF, this protein is defective and the cells do not release the chloride. The result is an improper salt balance in the cells and thick, sticky mucus. Researchers are focusing on ways to cure CF by correcting the defective gene, or correcting the defective protein (1).


    In order to support this research, Lonza sources cells from donors that have suffered from cystic fibrosis. Detailed genotyping data is also available with each lot.  Contact scientific support team for additional details.



    1. National Human Genome Research Institute

      Airway cells applications - cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial cells (DHBE)Cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial cells in B-ALI™ BulletKit™ stained for mucin expression  
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

    Research into Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a rapidly growing field with recent studies improving our understanding of the condition, enabling doctors to more easily make a diagnosis. However, a considerable amount of research is still needed if a cure is to be found, as the pathways of disease progression are not yet understood, with the rate of progression varying from person to person. IPF is characterized by scarring of the lung tissue causing a progressive reduction in lung function. While there are a number of treatments available to reduce the rate of progression of IPF, there is currently no treatment that can stop or reverse the scarring of the lungs. Both genetic and environmental factors are attributed to the development of the disease.


    Lonza now offers cryopreserved lung fibroblasts from donors diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) for use in research into this potentially fatal condition.


    Related Products:   


    Select References where Lonza's Normal Human Lung Fibroblasts are used for IPF Research:


  • Lung Cancer Research

    According to Globocan, 39% of the deaths worldwide in 2012 were due to lung cancer. Approximately 80-85% of the people suffer from non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer makes up 10-15% of the population.


    Lung cancer research is currently focused on:

    • Prevention and screening for early detection
    • Identification of new biomarkers and the development of targeted therapies
    • The development of next-generation chemotherapeutic agents
    • Effect of smoking on lung cancer development 


    Lonza’s normal bronchial epithelial cells are routinely used as controls to support lung cancer research. We offer cells from both smokers and non-smokers to allow researchers to understand the implications of smoking on lung cancer development. Our BEGMTM BulletKitTM is supported by various publications to successfully culture well-established lung epithelial cell lines such as BEAS-2B.



    Select References with Lonza’s cells and media supporting lung cancer research: 

    • "Repetitive Nicotine Exposure Leads to a More Malignant and Metastasis-Prone Phenotype of SCLC: A Molecular Insight into the Importance of Quitting Smoking during Treatment". Garcia el al. studied the effect of cigarette smoking and its correlation with the onset of lung cancer in Lonza's lymphatic endothelial cells. Nicotine has been found to promote tumor growth and angiogenesis, as well as protect cancer cells from apoptosis.
    • "Impact of DNA demethylation of the G0S2 gene on the transcription of G0S2 in squamous lung cancer cell lines with or without nuclear receptor agonists". Kusakabe et. al. identified that DNA methylation of the G0S2 gene was significantly more frequent in squamous lung cancer than in non-squamous lung cancer. 
    • El Najjar, et al. (2015). PLoSONE 10(2) demonstrates culturing of BEAS-2B bronchial epithelial cell line in BEGMTM Media to examine the effects of cathepsin and furin proteolytic enzymes on viral fusion protein activation in cells

  • Smoking-Related Lung Diseases

    Several interstitial lung disorders such as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and Pulmonary Histiocytosis X are attributed to long-term smoking. In order to support research in such areas, Lonza sources cells from donors that are either smokers or non-smokers. The comparative studies between these donors allows researchers to understand implications of smoking on certain cell types.


    We have recently launched lung fibroblasts isolated from donors diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).


    To request additional cell types from other disease areas, contact to get information.


    Select References with Lonza’s cells where donors are characterized as smokers or non-smokers:

    • "Role of aberrant metalloproteinase activity in the pro-inflammatory phenotype of bronchial epithelium in COPD". Heijink et al.  studied the effect of cigarette smoking and its correlation with development of COPD.
    • "Repetitive Nicotine Exposure Leads to a More Malignant and Metastasis-Prone Phenotype of SCLC: A Molecular Insight into the Importance of Quitting Smoking during Treatment". Garcia el al. studied the effect of cigarette smoking and its correlation with the onset of lung cancer with Lonza's lymphatic endothelial cells. Nicotine has been found to promote tumor growth and angiogenesis, as well as protect cancer cells from apoptosis.