The use of in vitro 3D organoid/colony forming assay (CFA); which mimics the in vivo environment have provided insight into the mechanisms by which lung stem cells maintain and repair the lung. In recent years, the use of CFA has markedly expanded. However, variations among laboratories in lung cell isolation methods, media used, type, origin, and processing methods of mesenchymal cells used as feeders for the epithelial colonies, and terms utilized to describe and quantify the growing colonies, have caused difficulty in reproducing results among different labs. In this study, we compared several previously described methods for lung cell isolation and culture media, to identify their influence on retrieved cells and growing colonies. We also characterized the effect of freeze/thaw, and propagation of fibroblasts on their ability to support epithelial colonies. Importantly, we suggested markers to identify fibroblast subtypes that offer the best support to alveolar stem cell proliferation. Then, we used our optimized assay to confirm the in vitro identity of recently described epithelial progenitors. We also tested the effect of hyperoxia on lung stem cells, and examined the expression of the receptors for the SARS-COV-2 virus entry into epithelial cells, on our organoids. In summary, our findings facilitate CFA standardization, help understand how niche cell variations influence growing colonies, and confirm some of the recently described lung stem cells.
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