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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2012 Apr 15;181(1):36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2012.01.005. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Differential effects of extracellular matrix and mechanical strain on airway smooth muscle cells from ovalbumin- vs. saline-challenged Brown Norway rats.

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Meakins-Christie Laboratories, McGill University Health Center, 3626 St. Urbain Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2X 2P2.


The asthmatic airway is characterized by alterations in decorin and biglycan and increased airway smooth muscle (ASM). Further, the asthmatic airway may be subjected to abnormal mechanical strain. We hypothesized that ASM cells obtained from ovalbumin (OVA)--and saline (SAL)--challenged rats would respond differently to matrix and mechanical strain. ASMC were seeded on plastic, decorin or biglycan. Additional cells were grown on decorin, biglycan or collagen type 1, and then subjected to mechanical strain (Flexercell). The number of OVA ASMC was significantly greater than SAL ASM when seeded on plastic. A significant decrease was observed for both OVA and SAL ASMC seeded on decorin compared to plastic; the reduction in ASMC number was more modest for OVA. Biglycan decreased SAL ASMC number only. Strain reduced cell number for SAL and OVA ASMC grown on all matrices. Strain affected expression of β1-integrin differently in OVA vs. SAL ASMC. These data suggest that matrix and mechanical strain modulate ASMC number; these effects are differentially observed in OVA ASMC.

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