Airway structure and function are key aspects of normal lung development, growth and aging, as well as of lung responses to the environment and the pathophysiology of important diseases such as asthma, COPD and fibrosis. In this regard, the contributions of airway smooth muscle (ASM) are both functional, in the context of airway contractility and relaxation, as well as synthetic, involving production and modulation of extracellular components, modulation of the local immune environment, cellular contribution to airway structure, and finally, interactions with other airway cell types such as epithelium, fibroblasts and nerves. These ASM contributions are now found to be critical in airway hyperresponsiveness and remodeling that occur in lung diseases. This perspective emphasizes established and recent discoveries that underline the central role of ASM, and sets the stage for future research towards understanding how ASM plays a central role by being both upstream and downstream in the many, interactive processes that determine airway structure and function in health and disease.
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology