UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Rho-Kinase Inhibition of Active Force and Passive Tension in Airway Smooth Muscle: A Strategy for Treating Airway Hyperresponsiveness in Asthma Yasuda, Yuto; Wang, Lu; Chitano, Pasquale; Seow, Chun Y.


Rho-kinase inhibitors have been identified as a class of potential drugs for treating asthma because of their ability to reduce airway inflammation and active force in airway smooth muscle (ASM). Past research has revealed that, besides the effect on the ASM’s force generation, rho-kinase (ROCK) also regulates actin filament formation and filament network architecture and integrity, thus affecting ASM’s cytoskeletal stiffness. The present review is not a comprehensive examination of the roles played by ROCK in regulating ASM function but is specifically focused on passive tension, which is partially determined by the cytoskeletal stiffness of ASM. Understanding the molecular basis for maintaining active force and passive tension in ASM by ROCK will allow us to determine the suitability of ROCK inhibitors and its downstream enzymes as a class of drugs in treating airway hyperresponsiveness seen in asthma. Because clinical trials using ROCK inhibitors in the treatment of asthma have yet to be conducted, the present review focuses on the in vitro effects of ROCK inhibitors on ASM’s mechanical properties which include active force generation, relaxation, and passive stiffness. The review provides justification for future clinical trials in the treatment of asthma using ROCK inhibitors alone and in combination with other pharmacological and mechanical interventions.

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