Cellular and molecular mechanisms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Clin Chest Med. 2014 Mar;35(1):71-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ccm.2013.10.004. Epub 2013 Dec 12.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with chronic inflammation affecting predominantly lung parenchyma and peripheral airways and results in largely irreversible and progressive airflow limitation. This inflammation is characterized by increased numbers of alveolar macrophages, neutrophils, and T lymphocytes, which are recruited from the circulation. Oxidative stress plays a key role in driving this inflammation. The pulmonary inflammation may enhance the development and growth of lung cancer. The peripheral inflammation extends into the circulation, resulting in systemic inflammation with the same inflammatory proteins. Systemic inflammation may worsen comorbidities. Treatment of pulmonary inflammation may therefore have beneficial effects.

Keywords: Autoantibody; Chemokine; Cytokine; Inflammation; Macrophage; Neutrophil; Nuclear factor-κB; Oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*