Alveolar Epithelial Cell-Derived Mediators: Potential Direct Regulators of Large Airway and Vascular Responses

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Bronchial epithelial cells and pulmonary endothelial cells are thought to be the primary modulators of conducting airways and vessels, respectively. However, histological examination of both mouse and human lung tissue reveals that alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) line the adventitia of large airways and vessels and thus are also in a position to directly regulate these structures. The primary purpose of this perspective is to highlight the fact that AECs coat the adventitial surface of every vessel and airway in the lung parenchyma. This localization is ideal for transmitting signals that can contribute to physiologic and pathologic responses in vessels and airways. A few examples of mediators produced by AECs that may contribute to vascular and airway responses are provided to illustrate some of the potential effects that AECs may modulate.

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