Extracellular matrix remodeling by dynamic strain in a three-dimensional tissue-engineered human airway wall model

Melanie M. Choe, Peter H S Sporn, Melody A. Swartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Airway wall remodeling is a hallmark of asthma, characterized by subepithelial thickening and extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling. Mechanical stress due to hyperresponsive smooth muscle cells may contribute to this remodeling, but its relevance in a three-dimensional environment (where the ECM plays an important role in modulating stresses felt by cells) is unclear. To characterize the effects of dynamic compression in ECM remodeling in a physiologically relevant three-dimensional environment, a tissue-engineered human airway wall model with differentiated bronchial epithelial cells atop a collagen gel containing lung fibroblasts was used. Lateral compressive strain of 10 or 30% at 1 or 60 cycles per hour was applied using a novel straining device. ECM remodeling was assessed by immunohistochemistry and zymography. Dynamic strain, particularly at the lower magnitude, induced airway wall remodeling, as indicated by increased deposition of types III and IV collagen and increased secretion of matrix metalloproteinase-2 and -9. These changes paralleled increased myofibroblast differentiation and were fibroblast- dependent. Furthermore, the spatial pattern of type III collagen deposition correlated with that of myofibroblasts; both were concentrated near the epithelium and decreased diffusely away from the surface, indicating some epithelial control of the remodeling response. Thus, in a physiologically relevant three-dimensional model of the bronchial wall, dynamic compressive strain induced tissue remodeling that mimics many features of remodeling seen in asthma, in the absence of inflammation and dependent on epithelial-fibroblast signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Asthma
  • Collagen
  • Fibrosis
  • In vitro
  • Myofibroblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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