Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Asthma And Smoker's Lung: Dry Airways Play A Key Role

Date:
April 9, 2008
Source:
University Hospital Heidelberg
Summary:
Dry airways may not only play a central role in the development of the inherited lung disease cystic fibrosis, but also in acquired chronic lung diseases like asthma and smoker's lung, the cigarette smoke-induced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Researchers found, in animal studies, that insufficient hydration of the airways leads to pathologies typical of COPD in humans.

Dry airways may not only play a central role in the development of the inherited lung disease cystic fibrosis, but also in much more common ac-quired chronic lung diseases such as asthma and smoker’s lung, the cigarette smoke-induced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is the conclusion reached by scientists at Heidelberg University Hospital under the direction of Assistant Professor Dr. Marcus Mall from the Department of Pediatrics at Heidelberg University Hospital and Professor Dr. Richard Boucher of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In animal studies, they found that insufficient hydration of the airway surfaces leads to pathologies typical of chronic obstructive lung diseases in humans.

Thus, these findings point to a new approach for the treatment of these diseases, which are listed by the World Health Organization WHO as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. There are currently no causal therapies available for treating these diseases; only the symptoms such as shortness of breath and oxygen deficiency can be treated.

Cystic fibrosis gene causes airways to dry out and thickens mucus

In the hereditary disease cystic fibrosis, which affects about 8,000 people in Germany (about 80,000 people in the Western world), a defective gene causes a change in the transport of salt and water across the mucosal surfaces in the lungs, the intestine and other organs, and thus produce a change in the composition of the secretions.  

Using a mouse model he developed, Dr. Mall succeeded in proving a direct relationship between the defective gene and development of lung disease – certain sodium channels on the surface of airway cells that are responsible for the resorption of salt and water are “hyperactive”. The cells absorb too much fluid, causing the airway surfaces to dry out. This gives rise to thick “dry” mucus that cannot be cleared.  As a consequence, the respiratory tract gets clogged with mucus – the lungs cannot be cleaned effectively of inhaled allergens, toxins and pathogens, giving rise to chronic pulmonary inflammation and respiratory insufficiency. 

Dry airways lead to allergic inflammation, chronic bronchitis and emphysema 

The research team from Heidelberg and the US has now for the first time studied the spontaneous course of lung disease caused by dehydration of airway surfaces in mice from birth to adulthood. “We found changes that are not only typical for cystic fibrosis, but also for other chronic obstructive lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema,” re-ports Dr. Mall, head of the Heidelberg Cystic Fibrosis Center and also head of a research program funded by a Marie Curie Excellence Grant from the European Union. 

In young mice, overly dry airways lead to allergic airway inflammation  -- characterized by an increase in specific white blood cells, the eosinophils -- typically seen in asthma, a disease that affects every tenth child in Germany. Subsequently, adult mice gradually develop chronic bronchitis (dominated by neutrophils), and emphysema, i.e. the destruction of the small alveoli in the lungs that are responsible for the exchange of oxygen between air and blood. These changes are typical for lung disease caused by exposure to cigarette smoke.

Improved hydration through sodium channel blockers?

The researchers conclude that dehydrated airway surfaces could play a key role in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in humans. These results indicate that improving hydration of airway surfaces and thus mucus clearance of the lungs, for example by blocking the sodium channels in the cells of the respiratory tract, could be a successful strategy for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases of different etiologies. The Heidelberg research team now wants to test the benefits of this new therapeutic approach in animals.

The results of the study have now been published in the “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Hospital Heidelberg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Hospital Heidelberg. "Asthma And Smoker's Lung: Dry Airways Play A Key Role." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407101837.htm>.
University Hospital Heidelberg. (2008, April 9). Asthma And Smoker's Lung: Dry Airways Play A Key Role. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407101837.htm
University Hospital Heidelberg. "Asthma And Smoker's Lung: Dry Airways Play A Key Role." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407101837.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — A 111-year-old Japanese was certified as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Sakari Momoi, a native of Fukushima in northern Japan, was given a certificate at a hospital in Tokyo. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins