Models to study airway smooth muscle contraction in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro: Implications in understanding asthma

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Journal Article
Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2013, 26 (1), pp. 24 - 36
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Asthma is a chronic obstructive airway disease characterised by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and airway wall remodelling. The effector of airway narrowing is the contraction of airway smooth muscle (ASM), yet the question of whether an inherent or acquired dysfunction in ASM contractile function plays a significant role in the disease pathophysiology remains contentious.The difficulty in determining the role of ASM lies in limitations with the models used to assess contraction. In vivo models provide a fully integrated physiological response but ASM contraction cannot be directly measured. Ex vivo and in vitro models can provide more direct assessment of ASM contraction but the loss of factors that may modulate ASM responsiveness and AHR, including interaction between multiple cell types and disruption of the mechanical environment, precludes a complete understanding of the disease process.In this review we detail key advantages of common in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro models of ASM contraction, as well as emerging tissue engineered models of ASM and whole airways. We also highlight important findings from each model with respect to the pathophysiology of asthma. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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