Proliferative aspects of airway smooth muscle

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Aug;114(2 Suppl):S2-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2004.04.039.


Increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass is perhaps the most important component of the airway wall remodeling process in asthma. Known mediators of ASM proliferation in cell culture models fall into 2 categories: those that activate receptors with intrinsic receptor tyrosine kinase activity and those that have their effects through receptors linked to heterotrimeric guanosine triphosphate-binding proteins. The major candidate signaling pathways activated by ASM mitogens are those dependent on extracellular signal-regulated kinase and phosphoinositide 3'-kinase. Increases in ASM mass may also involve ASM migration, and in culture, the key signaling mechanisms have been identified as the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and the p21-activated kinase 1 pathways. New evidence from an in vivo rat model indicates that primed CD4(+) T cells are sufficient to trigger ASM and epithelial remodeling after allergen challenge. Hyperplasia has been observed in an equine model of asthma and may account for the increase in ASM mass. Reduction in the rate of apoptosis may also play a role. beta(2)-Adrenergic receptor agonists and glucocorticoids have antiproliferative activity against a broad spectrum of mitogens, although it has become apparent that mitogens are differentially sensitive. Culture of ASM on collagen type I has been shown to enhance proliferative activity and prevent the inhibitory effect of glucocorticoids, whereas beta(2)-agonists are minimally affected. There is no evidence that long-acting beta(2)-agonists are more effective than short-acting agonists, but persistent stimulation of the beta(2)-adrenergic receptor probably helps suppress growth responses. The maximum response of fluticasone propionate against thrombin-induced proliferation is increased when it is combined with salmeterol.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / pharmacology
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Bronchi / cytology*
  • Cell Division*
  • Cell Movement
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Hypertrophy
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Trachea / cytology*


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Allergens
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases