Table of Contents
Journal of Allergy
Volume 2011, Article ID 742710, 20 pages
Review Article

The Pivotal Role of Airway Smooth Muscle in Asthma Pathophysiology

1Univ. Bordeaux, Centre de Recherche Cardio-Thoracique de Bordeaux, F-33000 Bordeaux, France
2INSERM U1045, F-33000 Bordeaux, France
3CHU de Bordeaux, Service D'Exploration Fonctionnelle Respiratoire, CIC-P 0005, F-33000 Bordeaux, France

Received 13 July 2011; Accepted 30 August 2011

Academic Editor: Brian Oliver

Copyright © 2011 Annaïg Ozier et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Asthma is characterized by the association of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), inflammation, and remodelling. The aim of the present article is to review the pivotal role of airway smooth muscle (ASM) in the pathophysiology of asthma. ASM is the main effector of AHR. The mechanisms of AHR in asthma may involve a larger release of contractile mediators and/or a lower release of relaxant mediators, an improved ASM cell excitation/contraction coupling, and/or an alteration in the contraction/load coupling. Beyond its contractile function, ASM is also involved in bronchial inflammation and remodelling. Whereas ASM is a target of the inflammatory process, it can also display proinflammatory and immunomodulatory functions, through its synthetic properties and the expression of a wide range of cell surface molecules. ASM remodelling represents a key feature of asthmatic bronchial remodelling. ASM also plays a role in promoting complementary airway structural alterations, in particular by its synthetic function.