Additional information about this network, including datasets and any atlases assembled so far, can be found on our Data Portal.
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The lung is the organ essential for gas exchange, which is facilitated by a highly specialized anatomy involving distinct epithelial and endothelial cell populations, supported by various mesenchymal cell types providing structural support. In addition, the lung is an essential part of the mucosal immune system, harbouring a rich variety of specialized tissue-resident immune cells. The high cellular complexity of lung tissue has resulted in the description of at least 60 different cell types to date. Regional differences in the molecular states of these cells as these occur along the various gradients and axes of the lung further adds to the cellular heterogeneity in this intricate tissue.
The Lung Biological Network of the HCA aims to establish a complete atlas of the healthy human lung. This atlas will sample the entire coordinate framework of the lung, both macro- and micro-anatomically to capture the natural variation of cellular states present within the healthy population, as outlined in this paper. This effort will generate a comprehensive map that describes the lung cells and their molecular phenotypes, the transitions between different cell states and their location in the tissue relative to each other and to anatomical landmarks.
The Human Lung Cell Atlas will serve as a reference for the analysis of diseased lung tissue at single-cell resolution and will allow identification of the shifts in cellular repertoire, the changes in cellular states and phenotypes, and the altered cell-cell interactions that disrupt normal lung homeostasis and constitute disease.