Research ArticleLung Disease

Hypercapnia increases airway smooth muscle contractility via caspase-7–mediated miR-133a–RhoA signaling

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Science Translational Medicine  05 Sep 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 457, eaat1662
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aat1662

Giving lungs a breath of fresh air

Severe lung disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are often associated with hypoventilation that can lead to hypercapnia, an elevation of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the bloodstream. Although hypercapnia has been associated with increased mortality among COPD patients, whether the increased CO2 plays a role in disease pathophysiology is unclear. Now, Shigemura and colleagues show that CO2 may act as a signaling molecule in lungs and that hypercapnia promoted smooth muscle cell contractility in mice. In COPD patients, hypercapnia was associated with increased airway resistance that was ameliorated by ventilation. The results suggest that reducing hypercapnia with noninvasive ventilation might have therapeutic effects in lung disorders.

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