Emphysema is one manifestation of a group of chronic, obstructive, and frequently progressive destructive lung diseases. Cigarette smoking and air pollution are the main causes of emphysema in humans, and cigarette smoking causes emphysema in rodents. This review examines the concept of a homeostatically active lung structure maintenance program that, when attacked by proteases and oxidants, leads to the loss of alveolar septal cells and airspace enlargement. Inflammatory and noninflammatory mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, as well as the role of the innate and adaptive immune systems, are being explored in genetically altered animals and in exposure models of this disease. These recent scientific advances support a model whereby alveolar destruction resulting from a coalescence of mechanical forces, such as hyperinflation, and more recently recognized cellular and molecular events, including apoptosis, cellular senescence, and failed lung tissue repair, produces the clinically recognized syndrome of emphysema.
Laimute Taraseviciene-Stewart, Norbert F. Voelkel
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.