Asthma is a chronic heterogeneous respiratory condition that is mainly associated with sensitivity to airborne agents such as pollen, dust mite products and fungi. Key pathological features include increased airway inflammation and bronchiole wall remodelling. In particular, goblet cell hyperplasia combined with excess mucus secretion impairs clearance of the inhaled foreign material. Furthermore, structural changes such as subepithelial fibrosis and increased smooth muscle hypertrophy collectively contribute to deteriorating airway function and possibility of exacerbations. Current pharmacological therapies focused on airway wall remodelling are limited, and as such, are an area of unmet clinical need. Sensitisation to the fungus, Aspergillus fumigatus, is associated with enhanced asthma severity, bronchiectasis, and hospitalisation. How Aspergillus fumigatus may drive airway structural changes is unclear, although recent evidence points to a central role of the airway epithelium. This review provides an overview of the airway pathology in patients with asthma and fungal sensitisation, summarises proposed airway epithelial cell–fungal interactions and discusses the initiation of a tissue remodelling response. Related findings from in vivo animal models are included given the limited analysis of airway pathology in patients. Lastly, an important role for Aspergillus fumigatus-derived proteases in triggering a cascade of damage-repair events through upregulation of airway epithelial-derived factors is proposed.
|Journal||Journal of Fungi|
|Early online date||6 Feb 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 6 Feb 2022|