Blocking the immune cell protein LIGHT in the lungs prevents airway remodeling in a mouse model of asthma, reports research published online this week in Nature Medicine. The study suggests that targeting this pathway may prevent breathing problems that develop due to asthma-related airway remodeling.
Patients with severe asthma exhibit chronic unresolved inflammation in the lungs leading to remodeling of the airways, fibrosis, and decreased lung function. Despite controlling airway inflammation, current therapies used to treat asthma have little effect on remodeling. Michael Croft and colleagues find that the protein LIGHT is expressed on activated immune cells after exposure to allergens from house dust mites and promotes airway remodeling. Genetic and antibody-mediated blockade of LIGHT prevents remodeling and decreased lung function as a result of allergen exposure, without altering the influx of immune cells into the lung.