Mechanobiology in lung epithelial cells: Measurements, perturbations, and responses

Christopher M. Waters, Esra Roan, Daniel Navajas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Epithelial cells of the lung are located at the interface between the environment and the organism and serve many important functions including barrier protection, fluid balance, clearance of particulate, initiation of immune responses, mucus and surfactant production, and repair following injury. Because of the complex structure of the lung and its cyclic deformation during the respiratory cycle, epithelial cells are exposed to continuously varying levels of mechanical stresses. While normal lung function is maintained under these conditions, changes in mechanical stresses can have profound effects on the function of epithelial cells and therefore the function of the organ. In this review, we will describe the types of stresses and strains in the lungs, how these are transmitted, and how these may vary in human disease or animal models. Many approaches have been developed to better understand how cells sense and respond to mechanical stresses, and we will discuss these approaches and how they have been used to study lung epithelial cells in culture. Understanding how cells sense and respond to changes in mechanical stresses will contribute to our understanding of the role of lung epithelial cells during normal function and development and how their function may change in diseases such as acute lung injury, asthma, emphysema, and fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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