Get access
Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Airway epithelial barrier function regulates the pathogenesis of allergic asthma

Authors

  • I. H. Heijink,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, Experimental Pulmonology and Inflammation Research, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    2. Department of Pulmonology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    3. GRIAC Research Institute, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    • Correspondence:

      Irene H. Heijink, University Medical Center Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9713 GZ, Groningen, the Netherlands.

      E-mail: h.i.heijink@umcg.nl

    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. C. Nawijn,

    1. Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, Experimental Pulmonology and Inflammation Research, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    2. GRIAC Research Institute, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • T.-L. Hackett

    1. Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, St Paul's Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author

Summary

The integrity of the airway epithelium in patients with asthma is often disrupted, with loss of epithelial cell–cell contacts. Airway epithelial barrier dysfunction may have important implications for asthma, because structural epithelial barrier function is tightly interwoven with the ability of the epithelium to regulate the immune system. We propose that changes at the airway epithelial barrier play a central role in the sensitisation to allergens and pathogenesis of allergic asthma. Many of the recently identified susceptibility genes for asthma are expressed in airway epithelium. However, the exact mechanisms by which the expression of epithelial susceptibility genes translates into a functionally altered response to aeroallergens in asthma are still unknown. In this review, we will focus on the role of airway epithelial barrier function in the susceptibility to develop allergic asthma and discuss therapeutic strategies aimed at the epithelial barrier.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary