Resolution of cell-mediated airways diseases

Respir Res. 2010 Jun 11;11(1):75. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-11-75.


"Inflammation resolution" has of late become a topical research area. Activation of resolution phase mechanisms, involving select post-transcriptional regulons, transcription factors, 'autacoids', and cell phenotypes, is now considered to resolve inflammatory diseases. Critical to this discourse on resolution is the elimination of inflammatory cells through apoptosis and phagocytosis. For major inflammatory diseases such as asthma and COPD we propose an alternative path to apoptosis for cell elimination. We argue that transepithelial migration of airway wall leukocytes, followed by mucociliary clearance, efficiently and non-injuriously eliminates pro-inflammatory cells from diseased airway tissues. First, it seems clear that numerous infiltrated granulocytes and lymphocytes can be speedily transmitted into the airway lumen without harming the epithelial barrier. Then there are a wide range of 'unexpected' findings demonstrating that clinical improvement of asthma and COPD is not only associated with decreasing numbers of airway wall inflammatory cells but also with increasing numbers of these cells in the airway lumen. Finally, effects of inhibition of transepithelial migration support the present hypothesis. Airway inflammatory processes have thus been much aggravated when transepithelial exit of leukocytes has been inhibited. In conclusion, the present hypothesis highlights risks involved in drug-induced inhibition of transepithelial migration of airway wall leukocytes. It helps interpretation of common airway lumen data, and suggests approaches to treat cell-mediated airway inflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Cell Movement* / drug effects
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Leukocytes / immunology*
  • Leukocytes / pathology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Mucociliary Clearance
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phagocytosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / drug effects
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / pathology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / pathology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators