A wealth of recent studies points to the importance of airway epithelial cells in the orchestration of inflammatory responses in the allergic inflamed lung. Studies also point to a role of oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of chronic inflammatory diseases. This article provides a perspective on the significance of airway epithelial cells in allergic inflammation, and reviews the relevance of the transcription factor, nuclear factor κB, herein. We also provide the reader with a perspective on the role that oxidants can play in lung homeostasis, and address the concept of “redox biology.” In addition, we review recent evidence that highlights potential inhibitory roles of oxidants on nuclear factor κB activation and inflammation, and discuss recent assays that have become available to probe the functional roles of oxidants in lung biology.
epithelium; nuclear factor κB; asthma; oxidants
Asthma remains a major health problem worldwide that has increased in developed countries. Much of the focus in asthma research in the past has been on adaptive, antigen-dependent immune responses. Recent work suggests that the innate, non–antigen-dependent immune system plays a critical role in asthma pathogenesis. Here we will highlight innate receptors and cells in the context of allergic responses. Reviewing animal models and human studies, we focus on interactions of innate and adaptive immunity.
lung; airway disease; immunology; inflammation
The prevalence of asthma has dramatically increased in recent decades. Exacerbations of asthma are a large contributor to asthma-related costs, and are primarily caused by viral and atypical bacterial infections. Rhinoviruses (RVs) are the most common viruses detected after an asthma exacerbation. RVs, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and human metapneumovirus (hMPV) viral infections early in life can induce wheezing and are associated with the development of asthma later in life. Atypical bacterial infections from Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae have also been linked to chronic asthma and potential asthma exacerbations. In this article, we will discuss recent developments in viral infections, specifically RV, RSV, and hMPV, and atypical bacterial infections as causes of asthma exacerbations, including new data focusing on the host immune response in airway epithelial cells and animal models of infection.
viral infections; atypical bacteria; exacerbations
Results from birth cohort and cross-sectional studies of young children with wheezing have uncovered strong associations between both lung function and immune responses in early life and the subsequent development of persistent wheezing and chronic airway obstruction up to mid-adulthood. It is now apparent that the pattern of bronchial hyperresponsiveness, deficits in lung function, and structural airway remodeling that are characteristic of asthma may be already established during the preschool years in most patients. Interactions between acute viral infections, especially those due to rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, and exposure to perennial aeroallergens may induce persistent alterations in immune responses and airway function in susceptible subjects. Similarly, deficits in airway function present shortly after birth predict airflow limitation in early adult life, which in turn is a strong predisposing factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The fact that these alterations are more likely to occur during early life and even in utero than later during childhood suggests that there a developmental window of susceptibility during which exposures can disrupt normal growth trajectories. Novel strategies for primary prevention of chronic respiratory diseases will be based on the identification of the genetic and environmental factors that interactively cause these disruptions.
asthma; COPD; infancy; spirometry
Asthma currently affects the lives of more than 30 million Americans from infancy to the elderly. In many ways, pediatric asthma differs from adult asthma, including childhood-onset adult asthma. Despite many advances in our understanding of the disease, the natural history of asthma is not well defined, especially in different subsets of patients. For many with allergic asthma the disease has its origins in early childhood, associated with early sensitization to aeroallergens and exposure to repeated viral infections. These early life exposures, coupled with genetically determined susceptibility, have a major impact on the natural history of the disease. A number of risk factors during the critical early stages in the initiation of asthma have been associated with subsequent outcomes. In addition, protective factors linked to early life experiences have also been delineated which may impact the development of atopy and asthma and reduce the prevalence of these diseases. Cumulatively, the data highlight the critical nature of this early period in which immune/inflammatory responses in the lung are initiated and serve to maintain the disease in subsequent years.
asthma; children; predictors; persistence
The purpose of this review is to discuss recent findings made during studies of the upper airways and sinuses of people with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) in the context of the literature. CRS is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting nearly 30 million Americans and is generally resistant to therapy with antibiotics and glucocorticoids (Meltzer EO and coworkers, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2004;114:155–212). We have formed a collaboration that consists of otolaryngologists, allergists, and basic scientists to address the underlying immunologic and inflammatory processes that are occurring in, and possibly responsible for, this disease. The main emphasis of our work has been to focus on the roles that epithelium, in the sinuses and upper airways, plays as both a mediator and regulator of immune and inflammatory responses. It is not our intention here to provide a comprehensive review of the literature in this area, but we will try to put our work in the context of the findings of others (Kato A and Schleimer RP, Curr Opin Immunol 2007;19:711–720; Schleimer RP and coworkers, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;120:1279–1284). In particular, we discuss the evidence that epithelial cell responses are altered in CRS, including those relevant to regulation of dendritic cells, T cells, B cells, and barrier function.
chronic rhinosinusitis; inflammation; epithelium; immunology
Breathing is known to functionally antagonize bronchoconstriction caused by airway muscle contraction. During breathing, tidal lung inflation generates force fluctuations that are transmitted to the contracted airway muscle. In vitro, experimental application of force fluctuations to contracted airway smooth muscle strips causes them to relengthen. Such force fluctuation–induced relengthening (FFIR) likely represents the mechanism by which breathing antagonizes bronchoconstriction. Thus, understanding the mechanisms that regulate FFIR of contracted airway muscle could suggest novel therapeutic interventions to increase FFIR, and so to enhance the beneficial effects of breathing in suppressing bronchoconstriction. Here we propose that the connectivity between actin filaments in contracting airway myocytes is a key determinant of FFIR, and suggest that disrupting actin-myosin-actin connectivity by interfering with actin polymerization or with myosin polymerization merits further evaluation as a potential novel approach for preventing prolonged bronchoconstriction in asthma.
asthma; bronchoconstriction; myosin; actin; contractile
Asthma is a syndrome of lung dysfunction characterized by airflow obstruction, reversibility to bronchodilators, and airways hyperresponsiveness (AHR). There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the principle defect in asthma is the occlusion of the airway lumen by liquid, fibrin, and mucus. The fall in FEV1 observed in asthma is best explained by a loss of communicating airspaces and the rise in residual lung volume. Imaging studies in both human patients and experimental animals support this hypothesis. An increased propensity for the airways to close can be a cause of AHR. We conclude that loss of lung volume plays a central role in determining the dysfunction of the asthmatic lung as measured by FEV1. Together, these recent findings provide a better understanding of the causes of airflow obstruction and AHR, suggesting new avenues for the development of more effective asthma therapies.
lung volume; peripheral resistance; FEV1; airways hyperresponsiveness; airway closure
Asthma is a heterogenous disorder related to numerous biologic, immunologic, and physiologic components that generate multiple clinical phenotypes. Further, genetic and environmental factors interact in ways that produce variability in both disease onset and severity and differential expression based on both the age and sex of the patient. Thus, the natural history of asthma is complex in terms of disease expression, remission, relapse, and progression. As such, therapy for asthma is complicated and has been approached from the standpoints of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Presently, asthma cannot be cured but can be controlled in most patients, an indication that most of the success clinical research strategies have realized has been in the area of tertiary prevention. Since for many adult patients with asthma their disease had its roots in early life, much recent research has focused on events during early childhood that can be linked to subsequent asthma development with the hopes of creating appropriate interventions to alter its natural history of expression. These research approaches can be categorized into three questions. Who is the right patient to treat? When is the right time to begin treatment? And finally, what is the appropriate treatment to prescribe?
asthma; therapy; inhaled corticosteroids; β-agonists
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and the majority of diagnoses are made in former smokers. While avoidance of tobacco abuse and smoking cessation clearly will have the greatest impact on lung cancer development, effective chemoprevention could prove to be more effective than treatment of established disease. Chemoprevention is the use of dietary or pharmaceutical agents to reverse or inhibit the carcinogenic process and has been successfully applied to common malignancies other than lung. Despite previous studies in lung cancer chemoprevention failing to identify effective agents, our ability to determine higher risk populations and the understanding of lung tumor and pre-malignant biology continues to advance. Additional biomarkers of risk continue to be investigated and validated. The World Health Organization/International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer classification for lung cancer now recognizes distinct histologic lesions that can be reproducibly graded as precursors of non–small cell lung cancer. For example, carcinogenesis in the bronchial epithelium starts with normal epithelium and progresses through hyperplasia, metaplasia, dysplasia, and carcinoma in situ to invasive squamous cell cancer. Similar precursor lesions exist for adenocarcinoma, and these pre-malignant lesions are targeted by chemopreventive agents in current and future trials. At this time, chemopreventive agents can only be recommended as part of well-designed clinical trials, and multiple trials are currently in progress and additional trials are in the planning stages. This review will discuss the principles of chemoprevention, summarize the completed trials, and discuss ongoing and potential future trials with a focus on targeted pathways.
lung cancer; chemoprevention; premalignancy
In an effort to further our understanding of lung cancer biology and to identify new candidate biomarkers to be used in the management of lung cancer, we need to probe these tissues and biological fluids with tools that address the biology of lung cancer directly at the protein level. Proteins are responsible of the function and phenotype of cells. Cancer cells express proteins that distinguish them from normal cells. Proteomics is defined as the study of the proteome, the complete set of proteins produced by a species, using the technologies of large-scale protein separation and identification. As a result, new technologies are being developed to allow the rapid and systematic analysis of thousands of proteins. The analytical advantages of mass spectrometry (MS), including sensitivity and high-throughput, promise to make it a mainstay of novel biomarker discovery to differentiate cancer from normal cells and to predict individuals likely to develop or recur with lung cancer. In this review, we summarize the progress made in clinical proteomics as it applies to the management of lung cancer. We will focus our discussion on how MS approaches may advance the areas of early detection, response to therapy, and prognostic evaluation.
proteome; translational research; biomarkers
This review focuses on recent research using genomics to examine lung carcinogenesis, histologic differentiation, and progression.
adenocarcinoma; invasion; genomics; microarray; development
Despite the recent introduction of many improved immunosuppressive agents for use in transplantation, acute rejection affects up to 55% of lung transplant recipients within the first year after transplant. Acute lung allograft rejection is defined as perivascular or peribronchiolar mononuclear inflammation. Although histopathologic signs of rejection often resolve with treatment, the frequency and severity of acute rejections represent the most important risk factor for the subsequent development of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), a condition of progressive airflow obstruction that limits survival to only 50% at 5 years after lung transplantation. Recent evidence demonstrates that peribronchiolar mononuclear inflammation (also known as lymphocytic bronchiolitis) or even a single episode of minimal perivascular inflammation significantly increase the risk for BOS. We comprehensively review the clinical presentation, diagnosis, histopathologic features, and mechanisms of acute cellular lung rejection. In addition, we consider emerging evidence that humoral rejection occurs in lung transplantation, characterized by local complement activation or the presence of antibody to donor human leukocyte antigens (HLA). We discuss in detail methods for HLA antibody detection as well as the clinical relevance, the mechanisms, and the pathologic hallmarks of humoral injury. Treatment options for cellular rejection include high-dose methylprednisolone, antithymocyte globulin, or alemtuzumab. Treatment options for humoral rejection include intravenous immunoglobulin, plasmapheresis, or rituximab. A greater mechanistic understanding of cellular and humoral forms of rejection and their role in the pathogenesis of BOS is critical in developing therapies that extend long-term survival after lung transplantation.
antibody formation; histocompatibility testing; transplant immunology; bronchiolitis obliterans; innate immunity
Lung transplantation offers the hope of prolonged survival and significant improvement in quality of life to patients that have advanced lung diseases. However, the medical literature lacks strong positive evidence and shows conflicting information regarding survival and quality of life outcomes related to lung transplantation. Decisions about the use of lung transplantation require an assessment of trade-offs: do the potential health and quality of life benefits outweigh the potential risks and harms? No amount of theoretical reasoning can resolve this question; empiric data are needed. Rational analyses of these trade-offs require valid measurements of the benefits and harms to the patients in all relevant domains that affect survival and quality of life. Lung transplant systems and registries mainly focus outcomes assessment on patient survival on the waiting list and after transplantation. Improved analytic approaches allow comparisons of the survival effects of lung transplantation versus continued waiting. Lung transplant entities do not routinely collect quality of life data. However, the medical community and the public want to know how lung transplantation affects quality of life. Given the huge stakes for the patients, the providers, and the healthcare systems, key stakeholders need to further support quality of life assessment in patients with advanced lung disease that enter into the lung transplant systems. Studies of lung transplantation and its related technologies should assess patients with tools that integrate both survival and quality of life information. Higher quality information obtained will lead to improved knowledge and more informed decision making.
outcomes assessment (health care); lung transplantation; survival analysis; quality of life; technology assessment (biomedical)
While the role cigarette smoke plays in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is undisputed, the molecular mechanisms by which inhaled smoke contributes to disease pathogenesis remains unclear. One of the major barriers to effective approaches to diagnose and manage COPD is the remarkable heterogeneity displayed by patients with the disease. Whole-genome gene-expression studies of airway and lung tissue from patients with COPD provide an opportunity to gain insights into disease pathogenesis, allowing for both a molecular understanding of the pathogenic processes that contribute to this heterogeneity, and the ability to target therapies to these processes. This review focuses on synthesizing and integrating the limited numbers of high-throughput gene expression studies that have been conducted on lung tissue and airway samples from smokers with COPD. Comparing several lung tissue studies using computational approaches, we find that the results suggest fundamental similarities and identify common biological processes underlying COPD, despite each study having identified largely nonoverlapping lists of differentially expressed genes. Given these similarities, we argue that additional lung tissue and airway gene-expression studies are warranted, and present a roadmap for how such studies could lead to clinically relevant tools that would impact COPD management.
gene expression; microarray analysis; biomarkers; emphysema
Lung cancer has become a global public health burden, further substantiating the need for early diagnosis and more effective targeted therapies. The key to accomplishing both these goals is a better understanding of the genes and pathways disrupted during the initiation and progression of this disease. Gene promoter hypermethylation is an epigenetic modification of DNA at promoter CpG islands that together with changes in histone structure culminates in loss of transcription. The fact that gene promoter hypermethylation is a major mechanism for silencing genes in lung cancer has stimulated the development of screening approaches to identify additional genes and pathways that are disrupted within the epigenome. Some of these approaches include restriction landmark scanning, methylation CpG island amplification coupled with representational difference analysis, and transcriptome-wide screening. Genes identified by these approaches, their function, and prevalence in lung cancer are described. Recently, we used global screening approaches to interrogate 43 genes in and around the candidate lung cancer susceptibility locus, 6q23–25. Five genes, TCF21, SYNE1, AKAP12, IL20RA, and ACAT2, were methylated at 14 to 81% prevalence, but methylation was not associated with age at diagnosis or stage of lung cancer. These candidate tumor suppressor genes likely play key roles in contributing to sporadic lung cancer. The realization that methylation is a dominant mechanism in lung cancer etiology and its reversibility by pharmacologic agents has led to the initiation of translational studies to develop biomarkers in sputum for early detection and the testing of demethylating and histone deacetylation inhibitors for treatment of lung cancer.
gene promoter hypermethylation; lung cancer; chromosome 6; epigenetics
Cardiovascular disease represents a considerable burden in terms of both morbidity and mortality in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For 20 years, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) has been an established predictor of cardiovascular mortality among smokers, never-smokers, and patients with COPD. We review evidence for increased cardiovascular risk in COPD. In addition, we assess the emerging evidence which suggests that hypoxia, systemic inflammation, and oxidative stress in patients with COPD may cause cardiovascular disease. We also discuss alternative hypotheses that the endothelium and connective tissues in the arteries and lungs of patients with COPD and cardiovascular disease have a shared susceptibility to these factors.
COPD; cardiovascular disease; systemic inflammation; endothelial dysfunction
The pulmonary circulation represents a unique vascular bed, receiving 100% of the cardiac output while maintaining low blood pressure. Multiple different cell types, including endothelium, smooth muscle, and fibroblasts, contribute to normal vascular function, and to the vascular response to injury. Our understanding of the basic cell biology of these various cell types, and the roles they play in vascular homeostasis and disease, remains quite limited despite several decades of study. Recent advances in approaches that enable the mapping of cell origin and the study of the molecular basis of structure and function have resulted in a rapid accumulation of new information that is essential to vascular biology. A recent National Institutes of Health workshop was held to discuss emerging concepts in lung vascular biology. The findings of this workshop are summarized in this article.
pulmonary circulation; progenitor cells; proliferation; apoptosis; permeability
Our current alveolar paradigm includes three highly specialized cell populations. Alveolar type I cells are flat, elongated cells that presumably enable gas exchange. Alveolar type II cells are small, cuboidal cells with metabolic, secretory, progenitor, and immunologic functions. Alveolar fibroblasts secrete extracellular matrix proteins that support alveolar structure. These cells work together to facilitate respiration. Many years of high-quality research have defined our understanding of alveolar biology. However, there is much to be determined about the factors controlling cellular phenotypes and crosstalk. Moreover, specific questions remain regarding origin, repopulation, and previously unrecognized functions of each cell. This article summarizes the current data for each cell type and highlights areas that would benefit from further investigation.
alveolus; pneumocyte; fibroblast
In a recent workshop organized by the NIH-NHLBI, investigators working on different aspects of lung biology met to discuss recent progress regarding the origin, development, and characterization of the various cell lineages present in the lung in both normal and disease states. The workshop was entitled “Resident Cellular Components of the Human Lung: Current Knowledge and Goals for Research on Cell Phenotyping and Function.” In this article we will highlight some of the developmental aspects of the lung discussed at the meeting. We will review information about developmental signals that are possibly reactivated during lung regeneration/repair and disease processes, and we will pose the questions and challenges viewed to be relevant to further advance the field.
organogenesis; respiratory progenitors; branching morphogenesis; foregut; lung development
At least two populations of epithelial stem/progenitor cells give rise to the lung anlage, comprising the laryngo-tracheal complex versus the distal lung below the first bronchial bifurcation. Amplification of the distal population requires FGF9-FGF10-FGFR2b-Sprouty signaling. Residual pools of adult stem cells are hypothesized to be the source of lung regeneration and repair. These pools have been located within the basal layer of the upper airways, within or near pulmonary neuroendocrine cell rests, at the bronchoalveolar junction as well as within the alveolar epithelial surface. Rapid repair of the denuded alveolar surface after injury is clearly key to survival. Strategies to enhance endogenous alveolar epithelial repair could include protection of epithelial progenitors from injury and/or stimulation of endogenous progenitor cell function. Protection with inosine or FGF signaling are possible small molecule therapeutic options. Alternatively, exogenous stem/progenitor cells can be delivered into the lung either intravenously, intratracheally, or by direct injection. Sources of exogenous stem/progenitor cells that are currently under evaluation in the context of acute lung injury repair include embryonic stem cells, bone marrow– or fat-derived mesenchymal stem cells, circulating endothelial progenitors, and, recently, amniotic fluid stem/progenitor cells. Further work will be needed to translate stem/progenitor cell therapy for the lung.
stem/progenitor cell; lung
Bone marrow–derived cells can take on the phenotype of epithelial cells and express epithelial-specific genes in multiple organs. Here, we focus on recent data on the appearance of marrow-derived epithelial cells in the adult lung. These findings have garnered significant skepticism because in most cases marrow-derived epithelial cells are very rare, the marrow cell of origin is not known, the techniques for detection have needed improvement, and there seem to be multiple mechanisms by which this occurs. Recent studies have focused on these concerns. Once these important concerns are addressed, further studies on the function(s) of these cells will need to be performed to determine whether this engraftment has any clinical significance—either beneficial or detrimental.
stem cell plasticity; surfactant protein C; cell fusion
Dynamic changes to the developing lung endoderm during the process of lung development result in the establishment of functionally distinct epithelial compartments that vary both in their cellular composition and mechanisms contributing to their maintenance in adulthood. This focused review compares the hierarchical organization of cells within slowly and rapidly renewing tissues as a basis to better understand cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating epithelial maintenance and repair in the lung.
progenitor; stem cell; lung repair
Airway submucosal glands (SMGs) are major secretory structures that lie beneath the epithelium of the cartilaginous airway. These glands are believed to play important roles in normal lung function and airway innate immunity by secreting antibacterial factors, mucus, and fluid into the airway lumen. Recent studies have suggested that SMGs may additionally serve as a protective niche for adult epithelial stem/progenitor cells of the proximal airways. As in the case of other adult stem cell niches, SMGs are believed to provide the localized environmental signals required to both maintain and mobilize stem/progenitor cells, in the setting of normal cellular turnover or injury. Aberrant proliferation and differentiation of glandular stem/progenitor cells may be associated with several hypersecretory lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis, asthma, and cystic fibrosis. To better understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate the specification and proliferation of glandular stem/progenitor cells in lung diseases associated with SMG hypertrophy and hyperplasia, researchers have begun to search for the molecular signals and cell types responsible for establishing the glandular stem/progenitor cell niche, and to dissect how these determinants of the niche change in the setting of proximal airway injury and repair. Such studies have revealed certain similarities between stem/progenitor cell niches of the distal conducting airways and the SMGs of the proximal airways.
stem cell niche; submucosal gland; airway; lung; development; repair