Phenotype and Functional Features of Human Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Immortalized Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells from Asthmatic and Non-Asthmatic Donors

J. K. Burgess*, A. Ketheson, A. Faiz, K. A. Limbert Rempel, B. G. Oliver, J. P. T. Ward, A. J. Halayko

*Corresponding author for this work

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Asthma is an obstructive respiratory disease characterised by chronic inflammation with airway hyperresponsiveness. In asthmatic airways, there is an increase in airway smooth muscle (ASM) cell bulk, which differs from non-asthmatic ASM in characteristics. This study aimed to assess the usefulness of hTERT immortalisation of human ASM cells as a research tool. Specifically we compared proliferative capacity, inflammatory mediator release and extracellular matrix (ECM) production in hTERT immortalised and parent primary ASM cells from asthmatic and non-asthmatic donors. Our studies revealed no significant differences in proliferation, IL-6 and eotaxin-1 production, or CTGF synthesis between donor-matched parent and hTERT immortalised ASM cell lines. However, deposition of ECM proteins fibronectin and fibulin-1 was significantly lower in immortalised ASM cells compared to corresponding primary cells. Notably, previously reported differences in proliferation and inflammatory mediator release between asthmatic and non-asthmatic ASM cells were retained, but excessive ECM protein deposition in asthmatic ASM cells was lost in hTERT ASM cells. This study shows that hTERT immortalised ASM cells mirror primary ASM cells in proliferation and inflammatory profile characteristics. Moreover, we demonstrate both strengths and weaknesses of this immortalised cell model as a representation of primary ASM cells for future asthma pathophysiological research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number805
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16-Jan-2018


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