Less Is More: Rare Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells Function as Critical Sensors in Lung

Dev Cell. 2020 Oct 26;55(2):123-132. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.09.024.


Pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNECs) are rare airway epithelial cells that also uniquely harbor neuronal and endocrine characteristics. In vitro data indicate that these cells respond to chemical or mechanical stimuli by releasing neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, implicating them as airway sensors. Emerging in vivo data corroborate this role and demonstrate that PNECs are important for lung response to signals, such as allergens. With close proximity to steady-state immune cells and innervating nerves, PNECs, as prototype tissue-resident neuroendocrine cells, are at the center of a neuro-immune module that enables the fundamental ability of an organ to sense and respond to the environment.

Keywords: endocrine; lung; neural immune modulation; pulmonary neuroendocrine cells; sensory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Neuroendocrine Cells / immunology
  • Neuroendocrine Cells / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism


  • Neuropeptides