Indexed on: 16 Jan '13Published on: 16 Jan '13Published in: Journal of allergy
It remains unclear whether airway smooth muscle (ASM) mechanics is altered in asthma. While efforts have originally focussed on contractile force, some evidence points to an increased velocity of shortening. A greater rate of airway renarrowing after a deep inspiration has been reported in asthmatics compared to controls, which could result from a shortening velocity increase. In addition, we have recently shown in rats that increased shortening velocity correlates with increased muscle shortening, without increasing muscle force. Nonetheless, establishing whether or not asthmatic ASM shortens faster than that of normal subjects remains problematic. Endobronchial biopsies provide excellent tissue samples because the patients are well characterized, but the size of the samples allows only cell level experiments. Whole human lungs from transplant programs suffer primarily from poor patient characterization, leading to high variability. ASM from several animal models of asthma has shown increased shortening velocity, but it is unclear whether this is representative of human asthma. Several candidates have been suggested as responsible for increased shortening velocity in asthma, such as alterations in contractile protein expression or changes in the contractile apparatus structure. There is no doubt that more remains to be learned about the role of shortening velocity in asthma.