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NIEHS Garantziotis 1407353831

The mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, N.C., is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives.

Following lung injury, cells that line the bronchial tubes release hyaluronan, a substance involved in lung inflammation. Airway hyperresponsiveness, the narrowing of the airways in response to environmental triggers, is a major component of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). NIEHS scientists and collaborators have found that compounds blocking the interaction of hyaluronan and its receptor (CD44) may provide a new type of therapy for thousands of patients suffering from chronic airway diseases.

This micrograph (courtesy of NIEHS’ Stavros Garantziotis) shows mouse airways after exposure to the harmful air pollutant ozone. Hyaluronan (green) is localized in the area between bronchial cells and smooth muscle cells expressing the hyaluronan receptor CD44 (red).

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