EGF-Amphiregulin Interplay in Airway Stem/Progenitor Cells Links the Pathogenesis of Smoking-Induced Lesions in the Human Airway Epithelium Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Lung
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco Use Disorder
  • Transcriptome


  • The airway epithelium of cigarette smokers undergoes dramatic remodeling with hyperplasia of basal cells (BC) and mucus-producing cells, squamous metaplasia, altered ciliated cell differentiation and decreased junctional barrier integrity, relevant to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. In this study, we show that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand amphiregulin (AREG) is induced by smoking in human airway epithelium as a result of epidermal growth factor (EGF)-driven squamous differentiation of airway BC stem/progenitor cells. In turn, AREG induced a unique EGFR activation pattern in human airway BC, distinct from that evoked by EGF, leading to BC- and mucous hyperplasia, altered ciliated cell differentiation and impaired barrier integrity. Further, AREG promoted its own expression and suppressed expression of EGF, establishing an autonomous self-amplifying signaling loop in airway BC relevant for promotion of EGF-independent hyperplastic phenotypes. Thus, EGF-AREG interplay in airway BC stem/progenitor cells is one of the mechanisms that mediates the interconnected pathogenesis of all major smoking-induced lesions in the human airway epithelium. Stem Cells 2017;35:824-837.

publication date

  • March 2017



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC5330845

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/stem.2512

PubMed ID

  • 27709733

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 824

end page

  • 837


  • 35


  • 3