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Treatment of COPD: A matrix perspective

Authors Dunsmore SE

Published 7 March 2008 Volume 2008:3(1) Pages 113—122


Sarah E Dunsmore

Abstract: Fundamental physical properties, such as the intrinsic recoil of the lung, are governed by the extracellular matrix. The prototypical roles of the matrix proteins, collagen and elastin, in pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema have long been recognized, and much research effort has been devoted to understanding mechanisms of extracellular matrix synthesis and turnover in the lung. Yet, despite extensive knowledge of the biochemical properties of collagen and elastin, none of the present clinical strategies for treating COPD directly target the extracellular matrix. From a matrix perspective, therapeutic interventions that limit elastic fiber destruction and/or restore function to damaged alveolar units merit particular consideration as clinical strategies for treating the emphysema component of COPD. Effective treatment of the bronchiolar component of COPD requires a better understanding of the relationship between airway fibrosis and airflow obstruction. Translating basic knowledge of extracellular matrix biology into the clinical venue will be essential in the development of new approaches to COPD treatment.

Keywords: basement membrane, collagen, elastic fiber, emphysema, fibrosis, stem cell

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