Understanding the development of the respiratory glands

Dev Dyn. 2015 Apr;244(4):525-39. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24250. Epub 2015 Feb 3.


Background: The submucosal glands (SMGs) of the respiratory system are specialized structures essential for maintaining airway homeostasis. The significance of SMGs is highlighted by their involvement in respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis, asthma and chronic bronchitis, where their phenotype and function are severely altered. Uncovering the normal development of the airway SMGs is essential to elucidate their role in these disorders, however, very little is known about the cellular mechanisms and intracellular signals involved in their morphogenesis.

Results: This review describes in detail the embryonic developmental journey of the nasal SMGs and the postnatal development of the tracheal SMGs in the mouse. Current knowledge of the genes and signalling molecules involved in SMG organogenesis is also explored.

Conclusion: Here we review the temporal localisation and development of the murine respiratory glands in the hope of stimulating further research into the mechanisms required for successful SMG patterning and function.

Keywords: airway homeostasis; respiratory stem cells; submucosal glands (SMGs).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Basement Membrane / metabolism
  • Collagen Type IV / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Exocrine Glands / embryology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Hemocytes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Mutation
  • Necrosis
  • Osteonectin / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Respiratory System / embryology*
  • Temperature


  • Collagen Type IV
  • Osteonectin