Mucociliary clearance is critically important in protecting the airways from infection and from the harmful effects of smoke and various inspired substances known to induce oxidative stress and persistent inflammation. An essential feature of the clearance mechanism involves regulation of the periciliary liquid layer on the surface of the airway epithelium, which is necessary for normal ciliary beating and maintenance of mucus hydration. The underlying ion transport processes associated with airway surface hydration include epithelial Na+ channel-dependent Na+ absorption occurring in parallel with CFTR and Ca2+-activated Cl- channel-dependent anion secretion, which are coordinately regulated to control the depth of the periciliary liquid layer. Oxidative stress is known to cause both acute and chronic effects on airway ion transport function, and an increasing number of studies in the past few years have identified an important role for autophagy as part of the physiological response to the damaging effects of oxidation. In this review, recent studies addressing the influence of oxidative stress and autophagy on airway ion transport pathways, along with results showing the potential of autophagy modulators in restoring the function of ion channels involved in transepithelial electrolyte transport necessary for effective mucociliary clearance, are presented.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was partly supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 AI-128729 and ES-0016096 to S. M. O’Grady.
© 2019 the American Physiological Society.
- Anion secretion
- K transport
- Na absorption