Korean J Intern Med.  2011 Dec;26(4):367-383. 10.3904/kjim.2011.26.4.367.

Recent Advances in Mechanisms and Treatments of Airway Remodeling in Asthma: A Message from the Bench Side to the Clinic

  • 1Division of Allergy/Immunology, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA, USA. jacho@ucsd.edu


Airway remodeling in asthma is a result of persistent inflammation and epithelial damage in response to repetitive injury. Recent studies have identified several important mediators associated with airway remodeling in asthma, including transforming growth factor-beta, interleukin (IL)-5, basic fibroblast growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, LIGHT, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, thymic stromal lymphopoietin, IL-33, and IL-25. In addition, the epithelium mesenchymal transformation (EMT) induced by environmental factors may play an important role in initiating this process. Diagnostic methods using sputum and blood biomarkers as well as radiological interventions have been developed to distinguish between asthma sub-phenotypes. Human clinical trials have been conducted to evaluate biological therapies that target individual inflammatory cells or mediators including anti IgE, anti IL-5, and anti TNF-alpha. Furthermore, new drugs such as c-kit/platelet-derived growth factor receptor kinase inhibitors, endothelin-1 receptor antagonists, calcium channel inhibitors, and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors have been developed to treat asthma-related symptoms. In addition to targeting specific inflammatory cells or mediators, preventing the initiation of EMT may be important for targeted treatment. Interestingly, bronchial thermoplasty reduces smooth muscle mass in patients with severe asthma and improves asthma-specific quality of life, particularly by reducing severe exacerbation and healthcare use. A wide range of different therapeutic approaches has been developed to address the immunological processes of asthma and to treat this complex chronic illness. An important future direction may be to investigate the role of mediators involved in the development of airway remodeling to enhance asthma therapy.


Transforming growth factor beta; Fibroblast growth factor 2; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Thymic stromal lymphopoietin; Biologic therapy

MeSH Terms

Airway Resistance/*immunology
Biological Therapy
Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
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