Role of airway smooth muscle mechanical properties in the regulation of airway caliber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The changes in lung volume that occur during normal tidal breathing and with intermittent deep inspirations play an important role in the maintenance of normal low airway responsiveness and in dilating constricted airways. The mechanical responses of airway smooth muscle in response to stretch underlie many of the physiologic effects of lung volume changes on airway caliber and airway responsiveness in vivo in normal humans and experimental animals. These properties have their basis in dynamic cytoskeletal processes that enable the airway smooth muscle cell to modify its shape and the organization of its cytoskeletal and contractile filaments in response to external forces that are imposed upon the airway smooth muscle tissue. Transmembrane integrin proteins sense mechanical forces imposed on airway smooth muscle tissues and transduce mechanical signals to macromolecular protein adhesion complexes (adhesomes) associated with the cytoskeletal domain of integrin proteins. Adhesome proteins mediate signals to cytoskeletal effector proteins that regulate cytoskeletal organization resulting in the remodeling of contractile and cytoskeletal filaments and their organization within the cell. Adhesome complexes also mediate signals to the nucleus that regulate changes in the phenotype and function of the airway smooth muscle cell. Mechanical stimuli imposed during breathing must be considered a primary physiologic mechanism for regulating the physiologic and pathophysiologic properties of airway smooth muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMechanics of Breathing
Subtitle of host publicationNew Insights from New Technologies: Second Edition
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Italia s.r.l.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9788847056473
ISBN (Print)8847056462, 9788847056466
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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  • Cite this

    Gunst, S. J. (2014). Role of airway smooth muscle mechanical properties in the regulation of airway caliber. In Mechanics of Breathing: New Insights from New Technologies: Second Edition (Vol. 9788847056473, pp. 53-64). Springer-Verlag Italia s.r.l..