Research ArticleLung Disease

Oxidation increases mucin polymer cross-links to stiffen airway mucus gels

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Science Translational Medicine  25 Feb 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 276, pp. 276ra27
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010525

Mucus: Quality counts

Sniffing, sneezing, coughing—from allergies to the common cold, too much mucus can cause misery. Yet, the ability to get mucus up and out is critical to its function. In patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) or other lung diseases, airway mucus can be highly elastic and much more difficult to clear, leading to airflow obstruction and lung infection. Now, Yuan et al. find that the biophysical properties of mucus from CF patients are altered because of neutrophilic oxidative stress. On the basis of these properties, they then targeted mucin disulfide cross-links with a thiol-modified carbohydrate, and found fast-acting mucolytic activity in CF sputum. Their findings support the use of mucolytics as a therapeutic strategy for CF and related inflammatory lung diseases.

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