Image of the Day: Tuft Cells

After a severe case of flu, mice have chemosensory cells in their lungs, a place where they don’t normally occur.

Apr 3, 2019
Chia-Yi Hou
Tuft cells (in green) in the lung tissue of a mouse
Andrew Vaughan/University of Pennsylvania

Researchers have successfully labeled individual sensory cells that can detect foreign organisms and irritating chemicals. The cells developed in the lungs of mice after a severe case of flu, they reported on March 25 in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

These so-called tuft cells resemble taste bud cells and are not originally found in the lungs. They can be found in the trachea, but the researchers suggest that the presence of tuft cells in the lungs may contribute to persistent inflammation. 

C.K. Rane et al., “Development of solitary chemosensory cells in the distal lung after severe influenza injury,” Am J Physiol-Lung C, doi:10.1152/ajplung.00032.2019, 2019.