CD44high alveolar type II cells show stem cell properties during steady-state alveolar homeostasis

Qian Chen, Varsha Suresh Kumar, Johanna Finn, Dianhua Jiang, Jiurong Liang, You yang Zhao, Yuru Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The alveolar epithelium is composed of type I cells covering most of the gas-blood exchange surface and type II cells secreting surfactant that lowers surface tension of alveoli to prevent alveolar collapse. Here, we have identified a subgroup of type II cells expressing a higher level of cell surface molecule CD44 (CD44high type II cells) that composed ~3% of total type II cells in 5-10-wk-old mice. These cells were preferentially apposed to lung capillaries. They displayed a higher proliferation rate and augmented differentiation capacity into type I cells and the ability to form alveolar organoids compared with CD44low type II cells. Moreover, in aged mice, 18-24 mo old, the percentage of CD44high type II cells among all type II cells was increased, but these cells showed decreased progenitor properties. Thus CD44high type II cells likely represent a type II cell subpopulation important for constitutive regulation of alveolar homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L41-L51
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Alveoli
  • CD44
  • Homeostasis
  • Lung
  • Type II cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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