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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2009 Feb;11(2):355-67. doi: 10.1089/ars.2008.2183.

Cross-talk between pulmonary injury, oxidant stress, and gap junctional communication.

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Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, and Emory Alcohol and Lung Biology Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Gap junction channels interconnect several different types of cells in the lung, ranging from the alveolar epithelium to the pulmonary vasculature, each of which expresses a unique subset of gap junction proteins (connexins). Major lung functions regulated by gap junctional communication include coordination of ciliary beat frequency and inflammation. Gap junctions help enable the alveolus to regulate surfactant secretion as an integrated system, in which type I cells act as mechanical sensors that transmit calcium transients to type II cells. Thus, disruption of epithelial gap junctional communication, particularly during acute lung injury, can interfere with these processes and increase the severity of injury. Consistent with this, connexin expression is altered during lung injury, and connexin-deficiency has a negative impact on the injury response and lung-growth control. It has recently been shown that alcohol abuse is a significant risk factor associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Oxidant stress and hormone-signaling cascades in the lung induced by prolonged alcohol ingestion are discussed, as well as the effects of these pathways on connexin expression and function.

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