Immunity, inflammation, and remodeling in the airway epithelial barrier: epithelial-viral-allergic paradigm

Physiol Rev. 2002 Jan;82(1):19-46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00020.2001.


The concept that airway inflammation leads to airway disease has led to a widening search for the types of cellular and molecular interactions responsible for linking the initial stimulus to the final abnormality in airway function. It has not yet been possible to integrate all of this information into a single model for the development of airway inflammation and remodeling, but a useful framework has been based on the behavior of the adaptive immune system. In that paradigm, an exaggeration of T-helper type 2 (Th2) over Th1 responses to allergic and nonallergic stimuli leads to airway inflammatory disease, especially asthma. In this review, we summarize alternative evidence that the innate immune system, typified by actions of airway epithelial cells and macrophages, may also be specially programmed for antiviral defense and abnormally programmed in inflammatory disease. Furthermore, this abnormality may be inducible by paramyxoviral infection and, in the proper genetic background, may persist indefinitely. Taken together, we propose a new model that highlights specific interactions between epithelial, viral, and allergic components and so better explains the basis for airway immunity, inflammation, and remodeling in response to viral infection and the development of long-term disease phenotypes typical of asthma and other hypersecretory airway diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Air Barrier*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Immunity*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / virology
  • Models, Biological
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / virology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / virology*
  • Virus Diseases / complications*