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Tissue remodelling in chronic bronchial diseases: from the epithelial to mesenchymal phenotype

European Respiratory Review. 2014;23(131):118-130 DOI 10.1183/09059180.00004413


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: European Respiratory Review

ISSN: 0905-9180 (Print); 1600-0617 (Online)

Publisher: European Respiratory Society

LCC Subject Category: Medicine: Internal medicine: Specialties of internal medicine: Diseases of the respiratory system

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Mallory Pain

Olga Bermudez

Philippe Lacoste

Pierre-Joseph Royer

Karine Botturi

Adrien Tissot

Sophie Brouard

Oliver Eickelberg

Antoine Magnan


Peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Airway remodelling is a critical feature of chronic bronchial diseases, characterised by aberrant repair of the epithelium and accumulation of fibroblasts, which contribute to extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition resulting in fixed bronchial obstruction. Recently, epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been identified as a new source of fibroblasts that could contribute to the remodelling of the airways. This phenomenon consists of the loss of the epithelial phenotype by bronchial epithelial cells and the acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype. These cells are then able to migrate and secrete ECM molecules. Herein, we review the different types of EMT. We will then focus on the signalling pathways that are involved, such as transforming growth factor-β and Wnt, as well as the more recently described Sonic Hedgehog pathway. Finally, we will highlight the implication of EMT in airway remodelling in specific chronic bronchial pathologies, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiolitis obliterans following lung transplantation. Despite the limitations of in vitro models, future studies of EMT in vivo are warranted to shed new light on the pathomechanisms of bronchial obstruction.