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Differential remodelling in small and large murine airways revealed by novel whole lung airway analysis

Tatler, Amanda L; Philp, Christopher J.; Hill, Michael R.; Cox, Sam; Bullock, Andrew M.; John, Alison; Middlewick, Robert; Stephenson, Katherine E.; Goodwin, Amanda T.; Billington, Charlotte K.; O'Dea, Reuben D.; Johnson, Simon R.; Brook, Bindi S.


Christopher J. Philp

Michael R. Hill

Sam Cox

Andrew M. Bullock

Alison John

Robert Middlewick

Katherine E. Stephenson

Clinical Assistant Professor (Nihr Clinical Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine)

Charlotte K. Billington

Simon R. Johnson

Professor of Mathematical Medicine and Biology


Airway remodelling occurs in chronic asthma leading to increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and extra-cellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Whilst extensively studied in murine airways, studies report only selected larger airways at one time point meaning the spatial distribution and resolution of remodelling are poorly understood. Here we use a new method allowing comprehensive assessment of the spatial and temporal changes in ASM, ECM and epithelium in large numbers of murine airways after allergen challenge. Using image processing to analyse 20-50 airways per mouse from a whole lung section revealed increases in ASM and ECM after allergen challenge were greater in small and large rather than intermediate airways. ASM predominantly accumulated adjacent to the basement membrane whereas ECM was distributed across the airway wall. Epithelial hyperplasia was most marked in small and intermediate airways. Post challenge, ASM changes resolved over seven days whereas ECM and epithelial changes persisted. The new method suggests large and small airways remodel differently and the long-term consequences of airway inflammation may depend more on ECM and epithelial changes than ASM. The improved quantity and quality of unbiased data provided by the method reveals important spatial differences in remodelling and could set new analysis standards for murine asthma models.


Tatler, A. L., Philp, C. J., Hill, M. R., Cox, S., Bullock, A. M., John, A., …Brook, B. S. (2023). Differential remodelling in small and large murine airways revealed by novel whole lung airway analysis. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 23, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 3, 2023
Publication Date Jan 3, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 4, 2024
Print ISSN 1040-0605
Electronic ISSN 1522-1504
Publisher American Physiological Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL
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