New Treatment for Asthma? Airway Collagen Affects Breathing

A new study finds that manipulating the stiffness of the collagen in the airway has an effect on breathing.

The airway consists of both a conducting region (larynx, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles) where air is humidified, warmed, and cleaned and a respiratory zone where gas exchange occurs. The airway is directly and continuously exposed to both macromechanical and micromechanical forces.

Macromechanics is the study of organ-level mechanical and material properties. Intrathoracic respiratory forces, perfusion, and cough represent some of the dynamic macromechanical forces exerted on the respiratory system. As the airway is composed of heterogeneous components (chondrocytes, epithelium, endothelium, muscle, extracellular matrix (ECM)), these constituents can be individually quantified using micromechanics.

Micromechanical properties drive the mechanotransduction in the airway, driving cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions [1].

Collagen is most abundant component in the airway extracellular matrix. It is also the primary component that determines mechanical properties of the airway. This discovery around the structure of airway cells could lead to a new treatment for asthma.

What You Need to Know

Abnormal airway collagen deposition is associated with the pathogenesis and progression of airway disease according to the researchers, Lumei Liu, Brooke Stephens, Maxwell Bergman, Anne May, and Tendy Chiang, in Columbus, Ohio.

Liu is with the Center of Regenerative Medicine, Abigail Wexner Research Institute, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.

Key Takeaways

  • collagen has a major role in airway mechanics
  • macro- and micro-scale approaches can quantify airway mechanics
  • collagen deposition affects pathologic changes in airway diseases.

The World Asthma Foundation would like to thank these experts for their research for their understanding how collagen affects healthy airway tissue mechanics is essential. The impact of abnormal collagen deposition and tissue stiffness has been an area of interest in pulmonary diseases such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The researchers seek to provide biomechanical clues for targeted therapies and regenerative medicine to treat airway pathology and address airway defects.

airway collagen affects breathing. Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Airway collagen affects breathing. Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay