Our lungs may be doing much more than just helping us breathe. A series of experiments on mice, carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has revealed that these organs play a crucial role in blood production — a function that had hitherto been ascribed solely to the bone marrow.

The findings, described in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, could have major implications for patients suffering from blood disorders like thrombocytopenia — caused due to a low platelet count.

“This finding definitely suggests a more sophisticated view of the lungs – that they’re not just for respiration, but also a key partner in formation of crucial aspects of the blood,” says one of the researchers, Mark R. Looney.

“What we’ve observed here in mice strongly suggests the lung may play a key role in blood formation in humans as well.”


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