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Transcriptional Signaling Hubs in Epithelial Cells During Pneumonia

  • Lee J. Quinton
  • Joseph P. Mizgerd
Chapter

Abstract

The respiratory surface is composed of heterogeneous epithelial cells with diverse cell-specific functions (Franks et al. 2008). The epithelium constitutes a barrier between the ambient environment and the internal milieu, and as such the epithelial cells help protect the body from bacteria and other materials that are inhaled or aspirated into the air spaces of the lung. Epithelial cells have constitutive activities that are clearly essential to host defense, including the elaboration of a surface lining fluid with chemical and physical properties that enhance antibacterial defense. In the airways, the mucociliary escalator traps inhaled materials and propels them out of the lungs, transporting them up the airways and past the glottis until they become swallowed and eliminated. This defense is a product of the airway epithelium, including coordinated efforts of glandular, secretory, and ciliated cells. The common and severe lung infections in patients with genetic defects influencing mucociliary escalator function, such as primary ciliary dyskinesia (Bush et al. 2007) or cystic fibrosis (Boucher 2007), highlight the critical role of this constitutive host defense system. In the alveoli, the type II cells basally secrete the lipid and protein components of the surfactant lining fluid. The surfactant proteins A and D are collectins with diverse host defense roles against bacteria, and the significance of these constitutive defenses are highlighted by the susceptibility to lung infection of mice with genetic deficiencies of surfactant proteins A or D (Wright 2005). Thus, the epithelial cells of the lung constitutively function to protect the lung from bacterial infection. When bacteria are too numerous or too virulent to be eliminated by constitutive defenses, recruited innate immune defenses are needed. These innate immune responses involve the integrated functions of structural elements such as lung epithelial cells and immune cells such as macrophages and neutrophils. This chapter will focus on the innate immune responses of lung epithelial cells, including their molecular regulation and contributions to mucosal immunology and tissue homeostasis during acute bacterial pneumonia. Specifically, we will highlight knowledge about two transcription factor signaling hubs which appear to be especially important to epithelial responses during pneumonia, NF-κB, and STAT3.

Keywords

Lung Injury Host Defense Airway Epithelial Cell Alveolar Epithelial Cell Lung Epithelial Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee J. Quinton
    • 1
  • Joseph P. Mizgerd
    • 1
  1. 1.Pulmonary CenterBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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