The involvement of small airways in the pathogenesis of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been debated for a long time. However, a proper definition of small airway disease is still lacking, and neither a widely accepted biomarker nor a functional parameter to assess small airway abnormalities and to explore the effect of tested compounds on small airways is available. Aiming towards increased knowledge and consensus on this topic, this perspective paper intends to (i) strengthen awareness among the scientific community on the role of small airways in asthma and COPD; (ii) examine the pros and cons of some biological, functional and imaging parameters in the assessment of small airway abnormalities; and (iii) discuss the evidence for distal airway pharmacological targeting in asthma and COPD.
Rhinovirus (RV) infection in asthma induces varying degrees of airway inflammation (e.g. neutrophils), but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear.
Elastin synthesis and degradation in the airway and lung parenchyma contribute to airway mechanics, including airway patency and elastic recoil. Interleukin (IL)-13 mediates many features of asthma pathobiology, including airway remodeling, but the effects of IL-13 on elastin architecture in the airway wall are not known. We hypothesized that IL-13 modulates elastin expression in airway fibroblasts from subjects with allergic asthma.