Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Mitochondrial Function in Airway Smooth Muscle

Philippe Delmotte, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Inflammatory airway diseases such as asthma affect more than 300 million people world-wide. Inflammation triggers pathophysiology via such as tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and interleukins (e.g., IL-13). Hypercontraction of airway smooth muscle (ASM) and ASM cell proliferation are major contributors to the exaggerated airway narrowing that occurs during agonist stimulation. An emergent theme in this context is the role of inflammation-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and altered mitochondrial function including an increase in the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This may establish a vicious cycle as excess ROS generation leads to further ER stress. Yet, it is unclear whether inflammation-induced ROS is the major mechanism leading to ER stress or the consequence of ER stress. In various diseases, inflammation leads to an increase in mitochondrial fission (fragmentation), associated with reduced levels of mitochondrial fusion proteins, such as mitofusin 2 (Mfn2). Mitochondrial fragmentation may be a homeostatic response since it is generally coupled with mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial volume density thereby reducing demand on individual mitochondrion. ER stress is triggered by the accumulation of unfolded proteins, which induces a homeostatic response to alter protein balance via effects on protein synthesis and degradation. In addition, the ER stress response promotes protein folding via increased expression of molecular chaperone proteins. Reduced Mfn2 and altered mitochondrial dynamics may not only be downstream to ER stress but also upstream such that a reduction in Mfn2 triggers further ER stress. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the link between inflammation-induced ER stress and mitochondrial function and the role played in the pathophysiology of inflammatory airway diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number374
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Jan 15 2020


  • IRE1
  • XBP1
  • asthma
  • inflammation
  • mitofusin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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