Airway remodeling in asthma: update on mechanisms and therapeutic approaches

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The term ‘airway remodeling’ reflects changes in the type, quantity, and nature of airway wall components and their organization. The purpose of this review is to look at recent publications on airway remodeling in asthma.

Recent findings

Animal models and in-vitro studies have confirmed the involvement of airway epithelium, airway smooth muscle (ASM), and extracellular matrix components in asthma-related airway remodeling. They report influences on proliferation of ASM cells, and how their orientation or morphology, in addition to the heterogeneity of ASM mass at different levels of airways could influence their effects. Clinical benefits have been observed following reduction of ASM following bronchial thermoplasty. Asthmatic epithelial cell transcriptome alterations were found to involve metabolism and epigenetics, beyond epithelial mesenchymal trophic unit driven by injury and repair in chronic inflammation. New ways to explore airway remodeling such as imaging or endoscopic techniques have been evaluated. Finally, new data support the role of eosinophils and mast cells in remodeling and show the influence of new asthma drugs on this process.

Summary

As recently stated by an American Thoracic Society task force, we need more research on airway remodeling, its determinants and clinical relevance, and on the effects of asthma drugs on its various components.

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