IL-13 and the Glycomics of Airway Epithelial Repair

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood and continues to increase in prevalence in adults. Every day, lung airways are subjected to challenges that damage their lining, known as the epithelium. The accumulation of damaged epithelium is a common and consistent feature in those with asthma, suggesting that asthmatics are more susceptible to damage, or are less able to repair the epithelium, than people without asthma. While the epithelium normally protects the underlying tissue from noxious particles, epithelial damage may account for airway hyper-reactivity in asthma, and the chronic nature of the disease. Previously supported by an MSFHR Scholar award, Dr. Delbert Dorscheid is researching the role of glycosylated proteins – proteins that have a sugar or sugar chain added to them – in epithelial repair. These proteins appear on the surface of cells that mediate repair, and their formation heralds the start of cell repair. Dorscheid has identified a specific protein that’s linked to the beginning of this process. His goal is to observe any changes in the modification and regulation of this receptor in asthmatic airways and healthy airways, and determine how this may influence injury and repair of the airway. The overall objective is to better understand the differences in asthmatic airways to develop new treatment strategies to improve the quality of life of those who suffer from this disease.