Current Allergy and Asthma Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 109-115

First online:

Factors controlling airway smooth muscle proliferation in asthma

  • Alastair G. StewartAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne
  • , John V. BonacciAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne
  • , Lilly QuanAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne

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Airway smooth muscle proliferation has been the focus of considerable attention, as it is a quantitatively important component of the airway wall remodeling response in asthma and has been suggested as a suitable target for the development of novel anti-asthma agents. Such agents are considered likely to reduce airway hyperresponsiveness and, consequently, airway obstruction, resulting in fewer symptoms and exacerbations. Identifying suitable drug targets has proved an elusive goal, as no dominant molecular mechanism for remodeling has emerged. Moreover, recent findings raise some doubt as to whether smooth muscle proliferation per se is the explanation of the increase in smooth muscle cell number in asthma, with alternative explanations including the proposal that cells migrate either from the interstitial compartment or from a circulating precursor stem cell population. Therefore, drug targeting of migration responses should be considered as an alternative approach to regulating the smooth muscle component of airway wall remodeling.