Role of epithelial mucins during airway infection

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Dec;25(6):415-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2011.12.003. Epub 2011 Dec 17.


Airway surface fluid contains two layers of mucins consisting mainly of 5 different mucin gene products. While the outer layer contains two gel-forming mucins (MUC5AC and MUC5B) that are tightly associated with various biologically active, defensive molecules, the inner layer contains three membrane-tethered mucins (MUC1, MUC4 and MUC16) shed from the apical cell surface. During airway infection, all of these mucins serve as a major protective barrier against pathogens. MUC1 mucin produced by virtually all the surface columnar epithelial cells in the respiratory tract as well as Type II pneumocytes in the alveoli plays an additional, perhaps more critical role during respiratory infection by controlling the resolution of inflammation that is essential to prevent the development of inflammatory lung disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alveolar Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lung Diseases / metabolism
  • Mucins / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / metabolism
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology


  • Mucins