Alveolar Epithelial Cells in Viral Dance

Chronic respiratory diseases affect over 500 million globally. Exacerbations worsen symptoms, accelerate disease progression, and are commonly caused by respiratory infections, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV can target alveolar epithelial cells which reside deep in the lung. We employ directed differentiation of stem cells to create alveolar epithelial cells and use these to model the dynamics of RSV infection in the context of chronic lung disease.

Body area Lung


Our research is revealing the host response to viral infection in physiologically relevant alveolar epithelial cell types. Excitingly, our stem cell platform allows us to study this in the context of chronic disease which has not been previously possible. Understanding how viral infection affects these cells will reveal opportunities to alleviate chronic lung disease exacerbations.

reNEW research

reNEW Melbourne’s Immune Development Group Dr Rhiannon Werder and team, including Sahel Amoozadeh, have been investigating alveolar epithelial infections with respiratory syncytial virus. We are now studying how RSV infections are altered in alveolar epithelial cells differentiated from patients with chronic lung diseases.

Image description

This image shows stem cell derived alveolar cells grown at air-liquid interface infected with respiratory syncytial virus (green). Note the multinucleated cells (syncytia) after which the virus is named.


Sahel Amoozadeh, Immune Development Lab, MCRI.