Mechanisms of airway remodeling

Chest. 2013 Sep;144(3):1026-1032. doi: 10.1378/chest.12-3073.


Airway remodeling comprises the structural changes of airway walls, induced by repeated injury and repair processes. It is characterized by the changes of tissue, cellular, and molecular composition, affecting airway smooth muscle, epithelium, blood vessels, and extracellular matrix. It occurs in patients with chronic inflammatory airway diseases such as asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, and cystic fibrosis. Airway remodeling is arguably one of the most intractable problems in these diseases, leading to irreversible loss of lung function. Current therapeutics can ameliorate inflammation, but there is no available therapy proven to prevent or reverse airway remodeling, although reversibility of airway remodeling is suggested by studies in animal models of disease. Airway remodeling is often considered the result of longstanding airway inflammation, but it may be present to an equivalent degree in the airways of children with asthma, raising the necessity for early and specific therapeutic interventions. In this review, we consider the factors that may contribute to airway remodeling and discuss the current and potential therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Airway Remodeling / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / pathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / pathology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*