ATS 2018

  • Aanvrager: Mevrouw X. Wu

ATS 2018 International Conference San Diego, CA May 18 - May 23 University of Groningen

The international ATS annual conference 2018 (ATS 2018) was organized in San Diego this year from May 18 - 23. As a junior researcher in the area of pulmonary disease (COPD), I am appreciated for having the opportunity to join this international feast with the support of longfonds. The abstract I submitted titled by 'WNT5A/5B signaling represses functional responses in alveolar epithelial progenitors' was selected for a RAPiD Poster Session with a presentation. Luckily, I also received an Abstract Scholarship from the Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function (RSF) of ATS and the 2018 International Trainee Scholarship (ITS) Award from the International Lung Health and Membership Committees of the American Thoracic Society. These honors I received made this congress trip more exciting and unforgettable.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) represents a worldwide concern with high morbidity and mortality, and is believed to be driven in part by accelerated ageing of the lung. Although several studies indicate a role for non-canonical WNT signaling, in particular of WNT-5A and WNT-5B, in ageing and COPD, the precise impact of non-canonical WNT signaling on lung repair remains poorly understood. We hypothesized that WNT-5A/5B might impact on alveolar epithelial repair. Thus, models of Precision Cut Lung Slices (PCLS) and organoid assay were set up. In this study, we found that the non-canonical WNT signaling is correlated with ageing. The non-canonical WNT ligands WNT-5A and WNT-5B repress gene expression of alveolar epithelial cell markers in lung slices, and functionally inhibit lung organoid formation. We speculate that such a mechanism may contribute to defective alveolar repair in ageing and COPD.

During the congress, I not only have chances to present my work, but also have many opportunities to attend different lectures, join workshops, visit posters and talk to the experts from different areas worldwide. In the session of 'International Scholars Poster Colloquium and Discussion Session', I was awarded as well as received an additional chance to present my poster, which is the most impressive moment during the 5-day-congress visit. I attracted many audience from various academic institutes including even the president of ATS.

Besides, I broadened my knowledge on the development of alveolar progenitor cells from the lectures of dr. Sarah E. Gilpin, dr. William Zacharias during the mini-symposium(A96). Both Sarah and William are excellent professors who are working on the organoid model in their researches. Sarah illustrated a general view of the development of the organoid model with multi-dimensional aspects. Although researches are using different methodological to set up the organoid models, this 3D cell model is a promising approach to answer specific questions about lung development and regeneration. The paper published recently from the group of dr. Zacharias reported the identification of a novel subset of the mouse and human alveolar type 2 (AT2) cell, the alveolar epithelial progenitor cell, which is WNT responsive and regenerates substantial portions of injured alveolar epithelium after influenza injury. This finding is a robust support of our findings that the alveolar progenitor cells are not only WNT responsive but also sensitive to several ligands of non-canonical WNT signaling pathway, such as WNT-5A and WNT-5B showed in our study.
In addition, Prof. Peter J. Barnes, who gave several presentations during the congress motivated me mostly. During one of his popular talks about the 'role of mitochondria dysfunction and the promise of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants', he reported several promising antioxidants. These antioxidants, such as MitoQ and Tiron, have potential medical values in accelerated lung ageing and COPD. Those information is helpful for my future research studies. I also participated a course organized by ATS during the congress, which is the session of Meet the professor seminars (MP612): the stem cell niche: application in pulmonary disease. Even though all the professors and the most of the attendees are clinicians, the topic is still interesting to the basic science researchers. We discussed about the applications of stem cells in recent clinical therapies, which is developing slowly with a variety of issues to be solved but still promising.

In the end, I would like to thank longfonds again to support me for the trip of the ATS 2018 conference. It was an unforgettable experience to exchange ideas with experts within the area of respiration and build scientific networks.