Roles of cysteinyl leukotrienes in airway inflammation, smooth muscle function, and remodeling

Stephen T. Holgate, Marc Peters-Golden, Reynold A. Panettieri, William R. Henderson, Hans Bisgaard, Anthony Sampson, Qutayba Hamid, Mark Liu, Stephen Peters, Bill Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

265 Scopus citations


A new paradigm for asthma pathogenesis is presented in which exaggerated inflammation and remodeling in the airways are a consequence of abnormal injury and repair responses arising from a subject's susceptibility to components of the inhaled environment. An epithelial-mesenchymal trophic unit becomes activated to drive pathologic remodeling and smooth muscle proliferation through complex cytokine interactions. Histamine, prostanoids, and cysteinyl leukotrienes (CysLTs) are potent contractile agonists of airway smooth muscle (ASM). The CysLTs appear to play a central role in regulating human ASM motor tone and phenotypic alterations, manifested as hypertrophy and hyperplasia in chronic severe asthma. The CysLTs augment growth factor-induced ASM mitogenesis through activation of CysLT receptors. Although they mediate their contractile effects by increasing phosphoinositide turnover and inducing increased cytosolic calcium, new data suggest that part of the contractile effect may be independent of calcium mobilization. Prostaglandin E2, the predominant eicosanoid product of the airway epithelium, is a potent inhibitor of mitogenesis, collagen synthesis, and mesenchymal cell chemotaxis and therefore can suppress inflammation and fibroblast activation. The capacity of the epithelium for CysLT synthesis is inversely related to its ability to make PGE2. The ASM is capable of expressing both leukotriene-synthesizing enzymes and CysLT receptors, and cytokines upregulate the receptor expression. This may be an explanation for the CysLTs promoting airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma. The CysLTs play an important role in the airway remodeling seen in persistent asthma that includes increases of airway goblet cells, mucus, blood vessels, smooth muscle, myofibroblasts, and airway fibrosis. Evidence from a mouse model of asthma demonstrated that CysLT1 receptor antagonists inhibit the airway remodeling processes, including eosinophil trafficking to the lungs, eosinophil degranulation, TH2 cytokine release, mucus gland hyperplasia, mucus hypersecretion, smooth muscle cell hyperplasia, collagendeposition, and lung fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S18-S36
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway inflammation
  • Airway remodeling
  • Asthma pathophysiology
  • Cysteinyl leukotrienes
  • Epithelial mesenchymal trophic unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Roles of cysteinyl leukotrienes in airway inflammation, smooth muscle function, and remodeling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this