Airway remodeling, or structural changes of the airway wall arising from injury and repair, plays an important role in the pathophysiology of asthma. Remodeling is characterized as structural changes involving the composition, content, and organization of many of the cellular and molecular constituents of the bronchial wall. These structural changes can include epithelial injury, subepithelial thickening/fibrosis, airway smooth muscle hyperplasia, goblet cell hypertrophy and hyperplasia, and angiogenesis. Historically, these changes are considered a consequence of long-standing airway inflammation. Recent infant and child studies, however, suggest that remodeling occurs in parallel with inflammation in asthmatic subjects. Despite advancements in the recognition of key cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in remodeling, there remains a paucity of information about which treatments or interactions are most likely to regulate these processes. Furthermore, it is unclear as to when is the best time to initiate treatments to modify remodeling, which components to target, and how best to monitor interventions on remodeling. Indeed, inhaled corticosteroids, which are generally considered to have limited influence on remodeling, have been shown to be beneficial in studies in which the dose and duration of treatment were increased and prolonged, respectively. Moreover, several studies have identified the need to identify novel asthma indices and phenotypes that correlate with remodeling and, as a consequence, might specifically respond to new therapies, such as anti-IgE, anti-IL-5, and anti-TNF-α mAbs. Our review will evaluate the development of remodeling in asthmatic subjects and the effects of treatment on these processes.
Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.