Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of human pleura reveals stromal heterogeneity and informs in vitro models of mesothelioma

The European Respiratory Journal 2024 January 25 [Link]

Joanna Obacz, Jose Antonio Valer, Reshma Nibhani, Taylor S Adams, Jonas C Schupp, Niki Veale, Amanah Lewis-Wade, Jasper Flint, John Hogan, Giuseppe Aresu, Aman S Coonar, Adam Peryt, Giulia Biffi, Naftali Kaminski, Hayley Francies, Doris M Rassl, Mathew J Garnett, Robert C Rintoul, Stefan J Marciniak


The pleural lining of the thorax regulates local immunity, inflammation and repair. A variety of conditions, both benign and malignant, including pleural mesothelioma, can affect this tissue. A lack of knowledge concerning the mesothelial and stromal cells comprising the pleura has hampered the development of targeted therapies. Here, we present the first comprehensive single-cell transcriptomic atlas of the human parietal pleura and demonstrate its utility in elucidating pleural biology. We confirm the presence of known universal fibroblasts and describe novel, potentially pleural-specific, fibroblast subtypes. We also present transcriptomic characterisation of multiple in vitro models of benign and malignant mesothelial cells, and characterise these through comparison with in vivo transcriptomic data. While bulk pleural transcriptomes have been reported previously, this is the first study to provide resolution at the single-cell level. We expect our pleural cell atlas will prove invaluable to those studying pleural biology and disease. It has already enabled us to shed light on the transdifferentiation of mesothelial cells, allowing us to develop a simple method for prolonging mesothelial cell differentiation in vitro.