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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 Aug;142(2):364-369. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.06.017. Epub 2018 Jun 28.

Chitins and chitinase activity in airway diseases.

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Department of Pathology & Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Mo.
Departments of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif. Electronic address:


Chitin, one of the most abundant biopolymers on Earth, is bound and degraded by chitinases, specialized enzymes that are similarly widespread in nature. Chitin catabolism affects global carbon and nitrogen cycles through a host of diverse biological processes, but recent work has focused attention on systems of chitin recognition and degradation conserved in mammals, connecting an ancient pathway of polysaccharide processing to human diseases influenced by persistent immune triggering. Here we review current advances in our understanding of how chitin-chitinase interactions affect mucosal immune feedback mechanisms essential to maintaining homeostasis and organ health.


Acidic mammalian chitinase; age-related disease; chitin; chitinase; chitotriosidase; epithelium; fibrosis; innate lymphoid cell; interleukins; interstitial lung disease; polysaccharide; pulmonary fibrosis

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