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Dev Dyn. 2018 Mar;247(3):346-358. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24541. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, a spectrum of states: Role in lung development, homeostasis, and disease.

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Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, Rice University, Houston, Texas.
Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for Chronic Respiratory Disease, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Department of Experimental Medical Sciences, Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Lund University, Sweden.


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays key roles during lung development and many lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and pulmonary fibrosis. Here, integrating morphological observations with underlying molecular mechanisms, we highlight the functional role of EMT in lung development and injury repair, and discuss how it can contribute to pathogenesis of chronic lung disease. We discuss the evidence of manifestation of EMT and its potential driving role in COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), and lung cancer, while noting that all cells need not display a full EMT in any of these contexts, i.e., often cells co-express epithelial and mesenchymal markers but do not fully convert to extracellular matrix (ECM) -producing fibroblasts. Finally, we discuss recent therapeutic attempts to restrict EMT in chronic lung disease. Developmental Dynamics 247:346-358, 2018.


chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD); epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT); hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF); lung cancer

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