Role of epidermal growth factor receptor activation in regulating mucin synthesis

Respir Res. 2001;2(2):85-9. doi: 10.1186/rr43. Epub 2001 Feb 21.


Healthy individuals have few goblet cells in their airways, but in patients with hypersecretory diseases goblet-cell upregulation results in mucus hypersecretion, airway plugging, and death. Multiple stimuli produce hypersecretion via epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression and activation, causing goblet-cell metaplasia from Clara cells by a process of cell differentiation. These cells are also believed to be the cells of origin of non-small-cell lung cancer, but this occurs via cell multiplication. The mechanisms that determine which pathway is chosen are critical but largely unknown. Although no effective therapy exists for hypersecretion at present, the EGFR cascade suggests methods for effective therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology*
  • Goblet Cells / metabolism
  • Goblet Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Metaplasia
  • Mucins / biosynthesis*
  • Mucus / metabolism
  • Nasal Polyps / pathology
  • Nasal Polyps / physiopathology
  • Smoke
  • Tobacco


  • Mucins
  • Smoke
  • ErbB Receptors