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Protein associated with allergic response causes airway changes in asthma patients
Date:3/22/2011

Changes that occur in the airways of asthma patients are in part caused by the naturally occurring protein interleukin-13 (IL-13) which stimulates invasion of airway cells called fibroblasts, according to a study conducted by researchers at Duke University. The study is the latest effort by researchers to better understand the processes that are involved in airway remodeling that can cause breathing difficulties in patients with asthma. The findings were published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"In the present study, we show for the first time that airway fibroblasts, isolated directly from patients with asthma and stimulated with IL-13, invade in significantly greater numbers than those isolated from normal control subjects," said Jennifer Ingram, PhD, assistant research professor of medicine at Duke University.

"In this novel mechanism of airway remodeling in asthma patients, IL-13 acts in combination with other mediators produced by cells in the airways: transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), which causes cellular changes, and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which act to break down proteins," she added. "Together, these agents cause cellular changes that lead to loss of lung function in asthma patients."

Airway remodeling occurs in patients in whom asthma is not adequately controlled over a long period of time. In these patients, persistent inflammation of the airways can cause an increased thickness in airway walls, increased mucus production and proliferation of blood vessels in the airways, all of which can interfere with normal breathing.

Many of the fibroblast responses that occur in airway remodeling are comparable to the interaction between cancer cells and connective tissue cells called stromal fibroblasts. Studies have shown these fibroblasts actively produce pro-invasive factors that result in metasta
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Contact: Brian Kell
bkell@thoracic.org
212-315-6442
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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