Origins of increased airway smooth muscle mass in asthma

BMC Med. 2013 Jun 6;11:145. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-145.


Asthma is characterized by both chronic inflammation and airway remodeling. Remodeling--the structural changes seen in asthmatic airways--is pivotal in the pathogenesis of the disease. Although significant advances have been made recently in understanding the different aspects of airway remodeling, the exact biology governing these changes remains poorly understood. There is broad agreement that, in asthma, increased airway smooth muscle mass, in part due to smooth muscle hyperplasia, is a very significant component of airway remodeling. However, significant debate persists on the origins of these airway smooth muscle cells. In this review article we will explore the natural history of airway remodeling in asthma and we will discuss the possible contribution of progenitors, stem cells and epithelial cells in mesenchymal cell changes, namely airway smooth muscle hyperplasia seen in the asthmatic airways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Airway Remodeling* / physiology
  • Animals
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / epidemiology
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Muscle, Smooth / pathology*
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / pathology*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / physiology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / pathology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiology
  • Up-Regulation / physiology*