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Bronchial Epithelial Cells

A Potential Therapeutic Target in Asthma?

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The bronchial epithelium has metabolic and immunological properties that involve the release of a range of mediators and interaction with other cell types within the lung. It also acts as a dynamic barrier, regulating the penetration and the traffic of a number of molecules between the body and the environment.

Many of these functions seem to be altered during the airway inflammation associated with bronchial asthma. In asthma the epithelium is often shed, and the extent of denudated basement membrane significantly correlates with bronchial hyperreactivity. Moreover, bronchial epithelial cells from patients with asthma are in an activated state. They release inflammatory mediators such as arachidonic acid metabolites and cytokines, and express surface markers such as adhesion molecules and major histocompatibility complex antigens. The functional activation of these cells seems to be correlated with the clinical severity of asthma.

Great attention has recently been focused on the effect of drugs on the phenotypical and functional alterations of bronchial epithelial cells in asthma. Several drugs, particularly corticosteroids, can promote the repair of the desquamated areas of the bronchi and decrease the release of inflammatory mediators such as endothelin, interleukin-8 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor.

Taken together, this evidence indicates that bronchial epithelial cells play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of asthma and represent an important target for future therapeutic approaches.

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Correspondence to Professor Philippe Godard.

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Vignola, A.M., Chanez, P., Campbell, A.M. et al. Bronchial Epithelial Cells. Clin Immunother 2, 468–477 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03259047

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