Chloride channels are involved in many different physiological processes such as cell migration, proliferation and apoptosis. The importance of the CLC family of chloride channels in these cellular functions has been recognized only recently. Infiltration of inflammatory cells, such as eosinophils, T cells, mast cells and neutrophils, is a hallmark of allergy and asthma. Indeed, chronic asthma is associated with widespread damage to the bronchial epithelium, due to excessive apoptosis, and with defective epithelial repair. However, the relationship between the immune cells of allergic airway diseases and chloride channels has not been clearly elucidated. In this review, characteristics of CLC channels are mainly discussed based on their function and presence in different immune cells in airway diseases. Not only are chloride channels involved in the recruitment of immune cells, they also play a role in the activation of these cells. Thus, understanding the role of CLC channels in the immune cells would provide unique insights to the pathophysiologic process of chronic asthma and the means to prevent or reverse the disease.
Keywords: Apoptosis, cell migration, cell proliferation, chloride channels, eosinophils, epithelial cells, macrophages, mast cells, neutrophils, T lymphocytes
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