Columbia University Medical Center
How Does Cigarette Smoke Lead to Lung Damage in Emphysema?
Although we know that cigarette smoke is the primary cause of COPD, the way in which cigarette smoke exposure leads to lung damage is still not fully understood. Smoking has recently been identified to alter ion channel function essential for normal cellular responses to injury. We plan to study the role of the BK channel in lung destruction. Mice bred with mutant BK channels have reduced lung destruction when exposed to smoke despite developing airway inflammation. Understanding the role for BK channel function in lung injury may provide potential novel treatment approaches for patients with COPD.
Update: In the Year 1, we have performed experiments to better understand the regulation of BK channels in various models of lung injury. We have examined the role of certain enzymes in immune cells called macrophages in mice bred with mutant BK channels. Through this research, we are gaining a greater understanding of the role of BK channels in emphysema development.