Airway smooth muscle: a potential target for asthma therapy

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2014 Jan;20(1):66-72. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000011.


Purpose of review: Asthma is a major public health problem that afflicts nearly one in 20 people worldwide. Despite available treatments, asthma symptoms remain poorly controlled in a significant minority of asthma patients, especially those with severe disease. Accordingly, much ongoing effort has been directed at developing new therapeutic strategies; these efforts are described in detail below.

Recent findings: Although mucus hypersecretion is an important component of asthma pathobiology, the primary mechanism of morbidity and mortality in asthma is excessive narrowing of the airway. The key end- effector of excessive airway narrowing is airway smooth muscle (ASM) contraction; overcoming ASM contraction is therefore a prominent therapeutic strategy. Here, we review exciting new advances aimed at ASM relaxation.

Summary: Exciting advances in ASM biology have identified new therapeutic targets for the prevention or reversal of bronchoconstriction in asthma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchoconstriction / drug effects
  • Bronchoconstriction / physiology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / pharmacology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory System / drug effects
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents