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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Review

Inflammation signals airway smooth muscle cell proliferation in asthma pathogenesis

Mohammad Afzal Khan

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine, Stanford University, VAPAHCS, 3801 Miranda Avenue, Building 101, Room B4-105, Palo Alto, California, 94304, USA

Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine 2013, 8:11  doi:10.1186/2049-6958-8-11

Published: 6 February 2013



Airway inflammation stimulates proliferation of airway smooth muscle cell, which contributes to the development of hyperplasia and hypertrophy of smooth muscle cell. The increase in airway smooth muscle cell mass is believed to be due to an up-regulation of inflammatory mediators in the airway. It is now well recognized that chronic inflammation as well as airway hyper-responsiveness and remodeling of airway during inflammation, are crucial to asthma. Airway hyper-responsiveness is caused by increased cell proliferation or by hypertrophy of airway smooth muscle cell depending on the nature of the inflammatory stimulation. Airway smooth muscle cell proliferation in asthma is regulated by the proinflammatory cytokines including IL-1β and TNF-α. These proinflammatory cytokines have been shown to influence human airway smooth muscle cell proliferation in vitro, which is due to cyclooxygenase-2 expression, production of prostaglandin E2, and increased cAMP levels.


This review highlights the role of different proinflammatory cytokines in regulating airway smooth muscle cell growth and also focuses on regulation of differential gene expression in airway smooth muscle cell by growth factors and cytokines, also to bestow unique insight into the effects of conventional asthma therapies on airway smooth muscle cell proliferation and development of new therapeutic strategies to control asthma.

Airway inflammation; Airway smooth muscle cells; Asthma