, Volume 281, Issue 2, pp 305-316

In vivo restitution of airway epithelium

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Epithelial shedding occurs in health and, extensively, in inflammatory airway diseases. This study describes deepithelialisation, reepithelialisation and associated events in guinea-pig trachea after shedding-like epithelial denudation in vivo. Mechanical deepithelialisation of an 800-μm wide tracheal zone was carried out using an orotracheal steel probe without bleeding or damage to the basement membrane. Reepithelialisation was studied by scanning- and transmission electron microscopy and light microscopy. Nerve fibres were examined by immunostaining. Cell proliferation was analysed by [3H]-thymidine autoradiography. Immediately after epithelial removal secretory and ciliated (and presumably basal) epithelial cells at the wound margin dedifferentiated, flattened and migrated rapidly (2–3 μm/min) over the denuded basement membrane. Within 8–15 h a new, flattened epithelium covered the entire deepithelialised zone. At 30 h a tight epithelial barrier was established and after 5 days the epithelium was fully redifferentiated. After completed migration an increased mitotic activity occurred in the epithelium and in fibroblasts/smooth muscle beneath the restitution zone. Reinnervating intraepithelial calcitonin gene-related peptide-containing nerve fibres appeared within 30 h. We conclude that (1) reproducible shedding-like denudation, without bleeding or damage to the basement membrane, can be produced in vivo; (2) secretory and ciliated cells participate in reepithelialisation by dedifferentiation and migration; (3) the initial migration is very fast in vivo; (4) shedding-like denudation may cause strong secretory and exudative responses as well as proliferation of epithelium, and fibroblasts/smooth muscle. Rapid restitution of airway epithelium may depend on contributions from the microcirculation and innervation.